Environmental issue

Global Fishing Fleets Tracked in First Study of its Kind

An extensive global view of the commercial fishing industry shows that fishing occurs in 55% of the world’s oceans and seas. In addition, fishing can now be monitored in near real time to the level of individual vessels thanks to satellite technology and machine learning algorithms.

Arthur J. Villasanta – Fourth Estate Contributor

Santa Barbara, CA, United States (4E) – An in depth international view of the industrial fishing business exhibits that fishing happens in 55% of the world’s oceans and seas. In addition, fishing can now be monitored in close to actual time to the extent of particular person vessels because of satellite tv for pc expertise and machine studying algorithms.

The extent of worldwide fishing right down to single vessel actions and hourly exercise was revealed for the primary time by a research carried out by a staff of scientists from the University of California Santa Barbara; Global Fishing Watch; National Geographic Society’s Pristine Sea undertaking; Dalhousie University; SkyTruth; Google and Stanford University. Their findings had been printed within the journal, Science.

The research recognized the 70,000 vessels of the worldwide fishing fleet utilizing satellite tv for pc monitoring, machine studying and customary ship-tracking expertise. It additionally discovered that these ships and boats travelled 460 million kilometers in 2016, equal to touring to the Moon and again 600 instances.

The staff used machine studying expertise to investigate 22 billion messages publicly broadcast from vessels’ AIS positions from 2012 to 2016, to reply the query, “What drives commercial fishing behavior?”

Based solely on vessel motion patterns, the Global Fishing Watch algorithm was capable of determine greater than 70,000 industrial fishing vessels; the sizes and engine powers of those vessels; what sort of fishing they interact in and when and the place they fished right down to the hour and kilometer.

The research noticed greater than 40 million hours of fishing exercise in 2016. Most nations appeared to fish predominantly inside their very own unique financial zones. China, Spain, Taiwan, Japan and South Korea accounted for 85 p.c of the noticed fishing on the excessive seas.

“I think most people will be surprised that until now we didn’t really know where people were fishing in vast swaths of the ocean,” mentioned co-author Christopher Costello, a professor at UCSB’s Bren School of Environmental Science & Management.

“This new real-time dataset will be instrumental in designing improved management of the world’s oceans that is good for the fish, ecosystems and fishermen.”

This international survey confirmed the overall space of the ocean fished is probably going greater than the 55 p.c estimated. That’s as a result of some fishing efforts in areas of poor satellite tv for pc protection or in unique financial zones with a low proportion of vessels utilizing the automated identification system (AIS) weren’t included.

“Our analysis demonstrated that policies, cultures and economics play a huge role in driving fishing behavior,” mentioned Costello.

“In addition, we examined whether fishing diminished when fuel prices were high and found a weak response,” he added. “These are the kinds of things about which we’ve always speculated but haven’t ever been able to test — until now.”

The ensuing interactive map — which is freely out there to the general public — exhibits a close to real-time view of the fishing patterns of particular person vessels and fleets. This permits anybody to see what’s going on in their very own yard and to watch the place coverage boundaries are in place and the place they aren’t.

“By making this data public, we are providing governments, management bodies and researchers with the information needed to make transparent and well-informed decisions to better regulate fishing activities and reach conservation and sustainability goals,” mentioned Juan Mayorga, a undertaking scientist within the Sustainable Fisheries Group on the Bren School and with NatGeo’s Pristine Seas.

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