Protecting the oceans through information sharing

coral-reef-1024x682-1024x6821) Oceans cover three-quarters of the Earth’s surface, contain 97 % of the Earth’s water, feed over a billion people and over three billion people depend on marine and coastal biodiversity for their livelihoods. (UN) Unfortunately, oceans and the species that depend on them— including humans—face an uncertain future. The combined effects of overfishing, poorly managed resource extraction, serial depletion of marine species and warming waters have contributed to the collapse of 70% of the world’s most productive fisheries, the loss of a third of the world’s coral reefs, 90 percent of the oceans’ top predators(WCS).  Illegal fishing and poorly manage resource extraction represent a significant problem in fisheries. (Mission Blue)

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2) Vessel monitoring systems, together with satellite tracking and machine learning allow to create transparency in the seafood supply chain, promoting sustainability.

Many initiatives such as Global Fishing Watch, Project Eyes on the Sea and TransparentSea. org use the data of Vessel Monitoring Systems (VMS) and Automatic Identification Signals (AIS) from ships at sea, and corroborates the information with satellite images. That information is then processed with artificial intelligence tools to distinguish individual vessel tracks and identify when the vessels are fishing based on their movements fleets to understand their activities and impacts. Finally, most of this information is being shared for free. This enables to share information about where fishing activity is happening and has happened. For both, monitoring and conservation purposes, the former being relevant for law enforcement and later for research purposes.

The sharing of this type of information is important for efficient decision making, revealing where, when, and how much fishing occurs can help decision makers develop informed policy as well as strategic management and enforcement programs that create sustainable fisheries and reduce Illegal Unregulated and Unreported fishing (IUU).

“Developing datasets and analyses of global fishing activity can support research on ecology, the environment and human interaction with the ocean.  Global Fish Project

3) This technology could be deployed by policymakers, resource managers and in general all decision makers.

Conservation Organizations and NGOs can use this information to support campaigns to reduce impacts of fishing on the ocean, revealing fishing activity and pressuring officials and industry for changes that will improve sustainability on the oceans.

Industry Members could create and create premium markets and use this tool for fishers and seafood suppliers to verify how and where their products are caught.

Researchers could use this datasets and analyses of global fishing activity to support research on ecology, the environment and human interaction with the ocean.

The beauty of open source data sharing is that the application can be very diverse and varies between different stakeholders.

4) The next steps to deploy this technology is to share best practices in order to create awareness of the possible impacts of enabling data sharing could have, since the information is already public and for free.

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