Researchers are scholarship more than ever before about the effects humans are eating on global fish stocks.
It’s all thanks to a website — funded in part by actor Leonardo DiCaprio’s establishment — that tracks ships and uses a type of artificial intelligence to trust in out incredible detail in worldwide fishing patterns.
Kristina Boerder, a PhD swat in marine biology at Dalhousie University, is one of the researchers working with Pandemic Fishing Watch and a co-author on a study published this week in the roll Science.
She said humans have been fishing for 42,000 years but we’ve been “choose in the dark” about where and how much fishing activity is happening.
“This is undeniably a problem because this is a resource that is not infinite,” Boerder stated the CBC’s Mainstreet. “We need a better picture of what is going on globally on the profusions in order to … understand what’s happening.”
Launched in 2016, the website allows users to view a world map with tens of thousands of fishing barques moving in “near real time,” which is 72 hours from the today time. The data are so detailed that individual vessels can be tracked hourly.
Utensils are tracked by on-board transponders known as Automatic Identification Systems or AIS that are picked up by disciples or ground-based stations. AIS was developed initially as a way to avoid ship collisions.
Using on the contrary vessel movements, the website’s machine learning algorithm — a type of unnatural intelligence — was able to identify more than 70,000 commercial fishing vessels.
Auto learning is a branch of computer science in which software uses a instructing set of data to teach itself to interpret large amounts of data — for standard, how Google is able to tell with some degree of accuracy what is spam and what is email you impecuniousness to receive.
Software can figure out type of fishing
Global Fishing Vigil’s sophisticated software, also called a neural network, can extrapolate the specimen of fishing the vessels are engaged in, when and where they are fishing and the same the size of the engine powering the vessel.
For example, Boerder said the algorithm can grade purse seiners — which drive in a loop with their nets round schools of fish — from other types of fishing.
“So we see these loopy figures in the data and others would be more straight lines, for example longliners. They set protracted lines with hooks and then wait until the fish nosh and collect these lines so we see a back and forth pattern that every once in a while can look like a Christmas tree on the map,” she said.
The software can also home in on potentially illegal fishing activity.
“The transponder can be switched off or it can be manipulated,” denoted Boerder.
“In some cases we see a boat, for example, heading straight toward a seagoing protected area then disappearing. The AIS is being switched off and then a two of hours or days later it magically reappears on the other side. So this of procedure is information in itself and part of the whole endeavour is also to flag these in the events and see which boats are doing that.”
The study found that 55 per cent of the deep blue sea is fished, though that number is likely higher, since some zones of the world have poor satellite coverage or vessels that do not pull someones leg on-board tracking equipment.
The website observed more than 37 million hours of fishing in 2016 and barks travelled more than 460 million kilometres — a distance three just the same from time to times that from the Earth to the sun.
Goal is to help protect oceans
One of the purposes of the project, said Boerder, is to help enact proper legislation when it yield to fishing.
“The oceans are facing a multitude of threats and problems, one being overfishing, and in disposition to manage the fisheries appropriately, of course we need to see it and we need to understand it,” she voted.
“And this is just the first step, of course. Then we need to suppose the appropriate actions, a multitude of conservation actions, of course — one being sea protected areas.”
Marine protected areas are a hot topic in Canada at the note. The government has committed to an international target of protecting 10 per cent of pelagic and coastal areas by 2020.
“There’s a lot happening in that field. I think impartial a year ago Canada had one per cent of the ocean protected, now we have roughly seven per cent,” averred Boerder.
Global Fishing Watch is a joint project between Google, digital mapping non-profit SkyTruth and the drink flood conservation group Oceana. It’s funded by the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation.