I know that my son has been fishing on the west side of Kodiak Island.

How?

A new free interactive map lets you zero in on near real-time views of fishing patterns of individual boats and fishing fleets anywhere in the world.

Researchers at the University of California’ Bren School of Environmental Science & Management created a Global Fishing Watch map using satellite images and common ship-tracking technology.

It’s the first time that fishing’s global footprint has been quantified.

After observing  more than 40 million hours of fishing activity in 2016, they found that most nations appeared to fish mostly within their own exclusive economic zones, but five countries account for more than 85 percent of high seas fishing – China, Spain, Taiwan, Japan, and South Korea.

Fishing activity now covers at least 55 percent of the world’s oceans—four times the land area covered by agriculture.

In fact, 70,000 vessels of the global fishing fleet traveled nearly 286 million miles in 2016 – equivalent to traveling to the moon and back 600 times.

The team used machine learning technology to analyze 22 billion messages publicly broadcasted from vessels’ Automatic Identification Systems over four years.

Based solely on movement patterns, the Global Fishing Watch algorithm was able to identify each commercial fishing vessel, their sizes and engine powers, what type of fishing they were doing, and when and where they fished down to the hour and mile.

The research team also found that when and where fishing occurs are tied more to politics and culture than to natural cycles such as fish migrations or food foraging.

The data also revealed that holidays affect fishing patterns much more than migrations or ocean conditions. During Chinese New Year, for example, fishing activity dropped to similar levels as seasonal fishing closures.

By making the Global Fishing Watch public, governments, managers  and researchers now have information to make better decisions in regulating fishing activities and reaching conservation and sustainability goals.

Find links here  to the Global Fishing Watch interactive map —    

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