American movie star Leonardo DiCaprio has today (September 15) unveiled a new, free technology that allows users to spy on global fishing practices, in a bid to curb illegal activity in the oceans.
The technology, known as Global Fishing Watch, was officially released to the public during the Our Oceans Conference hosted by US Secretary of State John Kerry in Washington on Thursday and Friday.
It aims to offer a crowd sourced solution to the problem of illegal fishing, which accounts for up to 35 percent of the global wild marine catch and causes yearly losses of $23.5 billion, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization.
Overfishing is also a growing problem worldwide, with about two-thirds of fish stocks in the high seas either over exploited or depleted, said the FAO. Some of the planet’s largest fish, including tuna and swordfish, are below 10 percent of their historical level.
Using satellite technology combined with radar aboard boats, the site GlobalFishingWatch.org allows people to zero in on areas of interest around the world and trace the paths of 35,000 commercial fishing vessels.
“It gives the public an opportunity to see what is happening, even out in the middle of the ocean,” said John Amos, president and founder of SkyTruth, one of three partners in the project along with Google and Oceana.
“We need the public to be engaged to convince governments and convince the seafood industry that they need to solve the problems of overfishing,” Amos told AFP.