Skip to main content

Global Fishing Watch Helps Protect Critical Marine Ecosystems Through Open Data and Innovative Technology

By April 18, 2023Blog

Interactive map and R package enable the research community with new insights about the ocean

Global Fishing Watch is an international nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing ocean governance through increased transparency of human activity at sea. To help meet that goal, they created an interactive online map that uses satellite technology and machine learning to track and visualize the activity of fishing vessels around the world.

The map allows anyone to view the movements of fishing vessels in near-real time and explore historical data on fishing activity. Global Fishing Watch uses automatic identification system data and other streams of information to build knowledge about the ocean and the activities taking place across it. These key insights help promote transparency and accountability in global fisheries, enabling authorities to identify illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing. The map also supports efforts in understanding the environmental impact of fishing activity and helps inform sustainable fisheries management. Since its launch in 2016, Global Fishing Watch has bolstered the work being done by researchers, policymakers, and conservationists to promote sustainable fishing practices and protect marine ecosystems.

In July 2022, Global Fishing Watch released gfwr—an R package designed to enable the research community to access data from their API portal

The gfwr package allows R users to request data from Global Fishing Watch’s application programming interfaces and receive data in a tidy format suitable for incorporation into new or existing R workflows. Users have the ability to pull data for analysis without any prior API experience. Learn more about how Global Fishing Watch empowers others to use their data. 

Check out the Global Fishing Watch map. 🗺

A screenshot of the Global Fishing Watch map shows an interactive heat map of fishing efforts. Variations in color represent different data sources. The brighter grid cells indicate areas with more activity. 

The gfwr authors and maintainers are listed below. ✍️

Tyler Clavelle (he/him)

Rocío Joo (she/her)

Nate Miller (he/him)