The global economy loses $83 billion annually to illegal fishing, overfishing, and poor fisheries management. The lack of transparency in the fishing industry prevents informed resource management decisions, and has led to rampant Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing that undermines sustainable management, impacts food security and directly affects the global economy.
Partnering with Google, Indonesian Minister of Fisheries and Marine Affairs, Susi Pudjiastuti, is catching illegal fishing activity in real time, after thousands of vessels’ locations were revealed online. Previously, most of the Indonesian fishing activity had been invisible. The partnership has added 5,000 vessels to Global Fishing Watch database and has created a wave of interest from other countries to publish their VMS.
Since then, fish stocks in Indonesia, the second largest fishing nation in the world, have more than doubled and fisheries contribute again to economic growth, Bloomberg reported.
Minister Susi has called on all other nations to follow her lead. Working in collaboration with Oceana to increase transparency in the global fishing fleet, Peru became the first nation to take up the call by pledging to share their VMS data with Global Fishing Watch.
Until now, Global Fishing Watch has relied exclusively on publicly broadcast Automatic Identification System (AIS) signals from ships at sea to identify and map the fishing activity of the majority of all industrial-sized commercial fishing vessels–those with a capacity exceeding 100 gross tons, averaging around 24 meters. However, a large portion of the world’s fishing is conducted by vessels smaller than that, and many of these are not required to carry AIS, and therefore are not publicly trackable.
Many nations require smaller vessels that fly their flag or fish in their waters to install their proprietary VMS systems. Indonesian regulations require VMS on fishing vessels exceeding 30 Gross Tons (averaging about 16 meters or more) that are licensed to fish in their waters. The addition of their VMS data adds an important new layer to monitoring capacity, and makes nearly 5,000 previously invisible fishing vessels viewable on the Global Fishing Watch heat map. The activity of those vessels has never before been visible to the public or to other governments.