Leonardo DiCaprio tracks down 35,000 of the world’s fishing boats


A number of surprising things happened at the Our Oceans conference, a meeting that took place in Washington, DC last week in which scientists, environmentalists and politicians came together to discuss how to better protect our oceans from pollution, fraud, climate change, slavery, and overfishing.

Last week we told you about President Obama’s startling announcement — well, it was certainly a surprise to New England fishermen — that he was decreeing the creation of the first National Marine Monument in the United States. Atlantic Ocean.

And now understand this: Leonardo DiCaprio showed up at the same conference to announce that a new online technology platform using data from satellites should be able to track the world’s 35,000 commercial fishing vessels. This is damn good news for anyone who has ever tried to take on the monumental task of cracking down on illegal fishing and overfishing in global waters.

DiCaprio added not only the power of the stars, but also the possibility of us taking one more step towards truly sustainable fishing practices, which makes for a pretty mind-blowing announcement.

READ MORE: Obama’s marine monument could be a disaster for New England fishermen

It is notoriously difficult to determine where the fish you eat for dinner was caught and whether it came from an overfished area or if it really is an endangered or protected species. A report from Oceana, which we reviewed earlier this month, found that an unholy amount of fish we eat may well be mislabeled protected or endangered species.

But now the new technology, available in a fully-featured public beta, will collect an immense amount of data from around the world and allow individuals to monitor fishing vessel activities for free, in near real time.

DiCaprio appeared with Secretary of State John Kerry, who said he invited the actor to the conference because of DiCaprio’s activism; he just spent three years working on a climate change documentary titled Before the flood. He also apparently puts his money where his mouth is, because, Kerry said of DiCaprio, “He came and he invested millions of dollars for protection which has helped set aside and protect some 772,000. square miles of vulnerable marine territory, and we are very grateful for that. ” It is a “financial partner” of the new technology.

READ MORE: Why You Don’t Realize You’re Probably Eating Endangered Fish

According to DiCaprio, the technology, called Global Fishing Watch, “will enable citizens around the world to become powerful defenders of our oceans. With the data provided by Global Fishing Watch, governments, fisheries management organizations, researchers and the fishing industry can work together. , rebuild fisheries and protect critical marine habitats. We encourage you all to take advantage of this new technology and work together to effectively monitor and protect our seas. In particular, the actor said, he hopes this will help remedy the problems that exist with sharks and rays, which are being killed in large numbers while in danger.

Image courtesy of Global Fishing Watch.

Image courtesy of Global Fishing Watch.

Global Fishing Watch will collect data from automatic identification systems (AIS) of vessels via satellites and terrestrial receivers. If you log into their website, you can observe the behavior of these ships based on their movement over time. Besides the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation, which helped fund the project, partners include Oceana, SkyTruth, Google and several philanthropic organizations.

Jacqueline Savitz, Oceana’s vice president for the United States and Global Fishing Watch, told MUNCHIES: “The project grew out of a common idea to track and collect information on the individual routes of commercial fishing vessels. Oceana, SkyTruth and Google have decided to create a partnership. which combines the strengths of each organization and develops free online technology that would allow anyone to monitor commercial fishing activities around the world, thereby making global fishing activities more transparent.

Savitz adds, “We hope that Global Fishing Watch will revolutionize commercial fishing in the following ways: enabling governments to improve enforcement; discourage illegal fishing and reduce overfishing; enable fisheries managers to track vessels and identify potential unauthorized activities; facilitate transparency and promote honesty in seafood supply chains, thereby reducing seafood fraud and enabling consumers to choose products for reliable monitoring and enforcement; and we hope that ultimately it will help restore abundance to the oceans. “

Who says actors can’t really change global issues? Many don’t, but some certainly do.

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