SYDNEY (AFP) – Technology giant Google has taken the battle against illegal fishing online, with the company unveiling a tool in Australia on Friday that harnesses satellite data to track thousands of boats in real time.
A prototype interactive tool, which was developed in conjunction with environmental activists SkyTruth and marine advocacy group Oceana, was unveiled at the once-a-decade World Parks Congress in Sydney.
The tool is the latest salvo from environmentalists against illegal fishing, which is currently estimated by the Global Ocean Commission to cost the world economy up to US$23.5 billion a year.
“While many of the environmental trends in the ocean can be sobering, the combination of cloud computing and massive data is enabling new tools to visualise, understand and potentially reverse these trends,” Brian Sullivan of Google’s Earth Outreach and Oceans section said.
The tool uses data points from the Automatic Identification System network, which picks up GPS broadcasts of a vessel’s location to map movements.
The prototype has tracked just over 3,000 fishing vessels, with a public tool set to be released down the track.