Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Data-Bait: Using Tech to Hook Globe’s Multi-Billion-Dollar Fishing Cheats

We're a month late getting to this but it's important for the maintenance of the resource and we'll probably be referring back to the tech if not the fishies. 
From Reuters via gCaptain:
In 2016, a Thai-flagged fishing vessel was detained in Seychelles on suspicion that it had been fishing illegally in the Indian Ocean, one of the world’s richest fishing grounds.
The Jin Shyang Yih 668 was caught with help from technology deployed by FISH-i Africa, a grouping of eight east African countries including Tanzania, Mozambique and Kenya.

But as the vessel headed to Thailand, which pledged to investigate and prosecute the case, it turned off its tracking equipment and disappeared. Its whereabouts remain unknown.

Such activity is rampant in the global fishing industry, experts say, where illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing is estimated to cost $23.5 billion a year.

However, a range of non-profit and for-profit organizations that are developing technology solutions to tackle IUU say it is a matter of time before vessels can no longer vanish.

“The industry is developing very fast … basically the oceans will be fully traceable. There is no place to hide,” said Roberto Mielgo Bregazzi, the co-founder of Madrid-based FishSpektrum, one of the few for-profit platforms.

With backing from Google, Microsoft’s Paul Allen and Leonardo DiCaprio, among others, such platforms also track fishing on the high seas and in marine reserves, aided by radio and satellite data that send vessels’ locations and movements.

They use satellite imagery, drones, algorithms and the ability to process vast amounts of data, as well as old-fashioned sleuthing and analysis, to help countries control their waters.

Algorithms could identify illegal behavior, Mielgo Bregazzi told the Thomson Reuters Foundation, including predicting when a fishing vessel was about to meet its quota, triggering an alarm.

Bradley Soule, the chief fisheries analyst at OceanMind, a non-profit, said technology can help even rich countries, which might otherwise struggle to process the volume of data broadcast by hundreds of thousands of vessels.

Organizations such as his crunch that data and help to differentiate between normal and suspicious activity.

“The bulk of the threat is non-compliance by mainly legal operators who skirt the rules when they think no one’s looking,” said Soule, who helps Costa Rica monitor its waters.

Others go further. Trygg Mat Tracking (TMT), a Norway-based non-profit, digs up data on a vessel’s identity, its owners, agents and which company provides the crew. Its approach saw a South Korean ship in 2013 pay a then-record $1 million fine....