Thursday January 11, 2024


We’ve been largely flying blind when it comes to fishing, shipping and energy production intel on our oceans, according to a new study that combines artificial intelligence with satellite technology. Researchers found that more than three-quarters of industrial fishing activity and almost one-third of transport and energy activity is missing from public tracking systems, and therefore largely invisible globally.

The study, from Global Fishing Watch (GFW), a vessel-tracking platform created by Google and the NGOs Oceana and SkyTruth, was published in the journal Nature on Jan. 3. Analysts used deep learning models and 2 petabytes of satellite imagery to map industrial activities spanning more than 15% of the ocean between 2017 and 2021 and compared the results with activity indicated by publicly available tracking data.

“We can’t manage what we can’t see,” co-lead author Fernando Paolo, senior machine learning engineer at GFW, told Mongabay. “In this data void, it is all too easy to do harm to the environment, mismanage marine resources or disregard the law — and get away with it.”

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