Need to address gaps in global fisheries observation


Military technologies accelerated the ability to navigate and find fish, leading to widespread overfishing and some rapid stock declines (Pauly et al. 2002). These technologies evolved into radar-based systems that enable near real-time observation of fishing vessels. Harvest rates increased dramatically with these technologies, but lack of basic monitoring and surveillance remains a major problem for global fisheries management (Beddington et al. 2007; Anticamara et al. 2011). Much knowledge of global fishing effort is still derived from handwritten logbooks. Vessels equipped with transponders can hide their location or purpose, and prosecution success for most fishing misdemeanors is very low (Gross 2018). Consequently, illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing has hindered effective management of marine ecosystems, while one-third of assessed marine fish stocks are fished at biologically unsustainable levels (FAO 2016) and many more unassessed species and stocks are almost certainly overharvested (Pitcher & Cheung 2013). Information on maritime activity is freely available or can be purchased from data vendors (eg, MarineTraffic and Global Fishing Watch). Most providers harvest information transmitted from vessels’ automatic identification systems (AISs) or vessel monitoring systems (VMSs).

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