Global Fishing Watch has received a five-year USD $60 million commitment through The Audacious Project to leverage open data and emerging technology to revolutionize global ocean management. Over the next five years, the ocean conservation nonprofit will publicly map more than one million ocean-going vessels and all fixed infrastructure at sea.
Housed within TED, a nonprofit dedicated to “ideas worth spreading,” The Audacious Project selects a cohort of projects every year that represent bold solutions to critical challenges facing the world. By connecting these ambitious initiatives with an inspiring group of donors and supporters, The Audacious Project helps accelerate big ideas and amplify the overall impact of the work.
Global Fishing Watch’s chief executive officer, Tony Long, delivered a TED Talk, released on World Ocean Day (June 8), describing the organization’s pioneering project to map and monitor all industrial activity at sea and make this knowledge freely available to the world.
“Shockingly, little is known about human activity taking place across more than two-thirds of our planet’s surface. This must change if we’re to restore our ocean’s health,” he said. “We’re honored to receive this catalytic funding through The Audacious Project, which clearly signals support for our innovative technology to tackle the urgent crisis in our ocean. With this investment, we can transform how we manage the ocean by making the invisible visible.”
Founded in 2015 as a collaboration between Oceana, SkyTruth and Google, Global Fishing Watch has demonstrated the power of artificial intelligence and satellite data to shine a light on global fishing activity. The nonprofit built the first-ever map to visualize and publicly track industrial fishing vessels—some 70,000 boats—in near real-time.
Under this open ocean project, Global Fishing Watch will combine GPS data with millions of gigabytes of satellite imagery and use machine learning to publicly display the activity of all industrial fishing vessels and hundreds of thousands of small-scale fishing boats and cargo ships. It will also map all stationary infrastructure at sea like aquaculture pens, wind farms and oil rigs, opening an online window onto our impact across our blue planet for the first time.
Ocean stewardship efforts have been hampered by the absence of accurate and actionable information. Many governments lack the resources needed to process and analyze data on where and when their boats are fishing and what they are catching, or monitor other human activity at sea.
The open ocean project will unleash a new wave of open data and transparency in ocean governance.