WASHINGTON (CN) – The Safe Ocean Network, Secretary of State John Kerry’s initiative, spotlighted collaborative hi-tech solutions to battle illegal fishing at the Our Ocean Conference 2016 Thursday.
The Safe Ocean Network of 45 governments and organizations has developed more than 40 collaborative projects to counter the threat of illegal fishing across the globe. Many of the projects involve cutting edge technology to address the problem, and some even involve the internet to bring the issue home to individuals who want to be part of the solution, such as the Global Fishing Watch platform developed by Oceana, SkyTruth and Google, the Department of State announced.
The Global Fishing Watch, a “big data technology platform,” leverages satellite data to create the first interactive global view of commercial fishing, available to the public for free. “While many of the environmental trends in the ocean can be sobering, the combination of cloud computing, machine learning, and massive data is enabling new tools to visualize, understand and potentially reverse these trends,” Brian Sullivan, Sr. Program Manager at Google Ocean & Earth Outreach, said in the announcement of the platform.
Another Safe Ocean Network project that is web-based is the World Wildlife Fund’s tool called DETECT IT: Fish, which is used to analyze and address trade discrepancies in global data.
“Illegal, unregulated, unreported fishing is not just a problem for fish. It’s a problem for human beings, because what happens is, like a young man from Cambodia who was lured into going to Thailand being told he was going to get a construction job, found himself with a shackle around his neck for two years on a small boat, a prisoner, a slave, fishing illegally in order to provide for that enormous amount of money demanded from those too few fish. So human trafficking is part of this. Narcotics smuggling is part of this. Criminal enterprises moving and trafficking in guns. Because it’s all criminal activity. It’s all big money. It’s all under the table,” Kerry said at Oceana’s Global Fishing Watch Reception Wednesday night.
Other efforts involve analysis of satellite data and integration of that information with fishing vessel databases and oceanographic data to look for suspicious fishing activity, and to track the sale of prohibited species and enhance enforcement.
For example, the Pew Charitable Trusts and Satellite Applications Catapult supports Project Eyes on the Seas, a technology platform that synthesizes and analyzes layers of data in near real time to alert authorities to investigate.
INTERPOL’s Project SCALE investigates and prosecutes illegal fishing by creating international law enforcement collaboration to focus on illegal fishing and associated crimes such as fraud, tax avoidance, possession of stolen goods, corruption, money laundering, document falsification, and human trafficking.
A coordinated effort by NASA, the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Center for Atmospheric Sciences, the Namibian Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources, and the North-West University of South Africa, will use satellite technology called the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite to identify vessels that may be illegally fishing at night, through the use of light detection.
Another partnership, between the NGO Center for Advanced Defense Studies and the private firm Windward, is using advanced data analytics developed for the national security community to map the financial networks of companies involved in illegal fishing.
The countries partnered with the U.S. in the Safe Ocean Network include Australia, Bahamas, Bangladesh, Cabo Verde, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, the European Union, France, Gabon, Ghana, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Palau, Panama, Portugal, Senegal, Seychelles, Spain, the United Kingdom, and Vanuatu. The organizations include the Center for Advanced Defense Studies, the Consortium for Ocean Leadership, the Environmental Law Institute, the International Monitoring, Control and Surveillance Network, the International Seafood Sustainability Foundation, INTERPOL, mFish, Monterey Bay Aquarium, National Geographic Society, Oceana, Oceans 5, Pew Charitable Trusts, Secure Fisheries, Skytruth, the Stimson Center, UN Office on Drugs and Crime, UN Food and Agriculture Organization, Vulcan, and World Wildlife Fund.”
You can destroy an ecosystem. We lost the fishing and the striped bass off Massachusetts for 10 years. We had a 10-year period where we allowed no fishing whatsoever in order to bring them back. So we also learned what you can do to protect it. That’s called sustainability. And what we need to do with the Global Fishing Watch and the joining with this network is grow this network so there is not one square mile of ocean where we cannot prosecute and hold people accountable who violate the standards of sustainability on a global basis. That’s the goal,” Kerry said.
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