Many people reduce their meat intake (which is good!) by swapping it with another animal protein source of fish. The problem here lies in how fishing is done around the world and the crimes committed by too many fishers. Indeed, crime on the high seas is alive and well with fishing vessels partaking in swaths of illicit behaviour. This all sounds bad, but the good news comes down to preventing it.
Indeed, researchers have published the results of a large effort to track when, where, and sometimes why fishing vessels turn off their tracking systems known as AIS. This is fantastic because it will help nations enforce the rules of the ocean by stopping illegal maritime activities.
AIS disabling is also strongly correlated with transshipment events –exchanging catch, personnel and suppliesbetween fishing vessels and refrigerated cargo vessels, or “reefers,” at sea. Reefers also have AIS transponders, and researchers can use their data toidentify loitering events, when reefers are in one place long enough to receive cargo from a fishing vessel.
It’s not unusual to see fishing vessels disable their AIS transponders near loitering reefers, which suggests that they want to hide these transfers from oversight. While transferring people or cargo can be legal, when it is poorly monitored it can become a means of laundering illegal catch. It has beenlinked to forced labor and human trafficking.
It’s well known that industrial fishing is bad for the environment and bad for the fishers involved in it. A local fisherman, Paolo Fanciulli, had enough of the industrial fishing in their area and decided to fight it using art. Fanciulli creates large marble art pieces on land then drops them into the water. The art then functions as an obstacle which inhibits the use of nets and over fashioning, the art itself can also be listed by sea creatures and human alike!
He asked a quarry in nearby Carrara if they could donate two marble blocks that he could use to make sculptures. â€œThey donated 100 instead.â€
Via word of mouth, contributions from tourists and online crowdfunding, Fanciulli persuaded artists including Giorgio Butini, Massimo Lippi, Beverly Pepper and Emily Young to carve sculptures from the marble. Then he took them out to sea and lowered them in.
The underwater sculptures create both a physical barrier for nets and a unique underwater museum. The sculptures are placed in a circle, 4m apart, with an obelix at the centre carved by the Italian artist Massimo Catalani. Emily Young provided four sculptures, each weighing 12 tons, she calls â€œguardiansâ€; nearby lies a mermaid by the young artist Aurora Vantaggiato. Lippi has contributed 17 sculptures representing Sienaâ€™s contrade, or medieval districts.
Our oceans are vital to our existence and nobody knows that better than Andrew Sharpless of Oceana. He and Sean Casey the Parliamentary Secretary were on stage at the Collision Conference presenting their efforts on saving the worlds oceans. Canada has gone from protecting only 1% of its coast line to 10% in less than a decade, hopefully this will continue. Our coasts are great spaces for marine life to lay eggs and eat.
The key takeaway from the panel was the really cool global fishing map which tracks the location of every fishing vessel on the planet! The ships are tracked using regional Vessel Monitoring System (VMS), so the some of the data might not be accessible depending on which countries abide by the standard broadcasting rules.
Tracking the ships helps governments and NGOs enforce rules and regulations. Casey pointed out that tracking the ships will also help with identifying the polluters who drop their nets (accidentally) and leave them to drift (most of the plastic waste in the oceans comes from fishing activity).
Just a decade ago, building an accurate picture of the commercial fishing across the globe would have been impossible. Today, thanks to advances in satellite technology, cloud computing and machine learning, Global Fishing Watch is making it a reality.
Readers of this site know that I don’t like mass surveillance of human beings; however, the technology behind the tools used for intrusive observations of our private lives can be used to help animals. Henri Weimerskirch, a French ecologist, is using tons of little sensors on birds to monitor both birds and what they eat (fish). Right now we use human observation, satellites imagery, and radios to track animals. What Weimerskirch is doing now is to use mass data collection a la mass surveillance to monitor the well being of birds and fish.
The bird spies join an arsenal of technologies being used and developed around the world to catch illegal and unregistered fishing boats. The main tool right now is satellite surveillance, which has provided important big-picture data. But it relies on ships having signaling systems on boardâ€”which many unregistered vessels donâ€™t, and which can be easily switched off to provide cover for illegal activity. The information is also relatively low-resolution and only updated every few hours.
This fall, as Weimerskirchâ€™s birds begin patrolling the Indian Ocean, the waters around the Republic of Seychelles will come under new scrutiny. The government is partnering with FishGuard, a project developed by the drone company ATLAN Space and the nonprofit GRID-Arendal. The coast guard will control drones for two modes of operation: targeted missions and surveillance. In targeted use, the coast guard will send them to check out a suspicious boat thatâ€™s been previously identified. In surveillance mode, the drones will patrol a set area, and their artificial intelligence system will identify and report boats that match a registry of unregistered and illegal vessels.
The UK will be banning commercial fishing in approximately one million kilometres of their ocean waters. The country is expanding their marine protection areas in the Atlantic and Pacific around the British Overseas Territories. This is good news as overfishing is contributing part to the global mass extinction of marine wildlife, anything countries can do to curtail the current fishing levels will help the environment and at risk species.
A 840,000 sq km (320,000 sq mile) area around Pitcairn, where the mutineers of the Bounty settled, becomes a no-take zone for any fishing from this week. St Helena, around 445,000 sq km of the south Atlantic ocean and home to whale sharks and humpbacks, is now also designated as a protected area.
The foreign office said it would designate two further marine protection zones, one each around two south Altantic islands â€“ Ascension by 2019 and Tristan da Cunha by 2020.
Sir Alan Duncan, minister of state for Europe and the Americas, said: â€œProtecting 4m sq km of ocean is a fantastic achievement, converting our historic legacy into modern environmental success.â€