In Latin America, Training Helps Governments to Discover Suspicious Behavior

Global Fishing Watch reinstates in-person training with partners to strengthen the use of technology in support of responsible ocean management

Lack of available information on global and regional fishing activity is one of the biggest challenges when it comes to monitoring the ocean and understanding the true extent of humanity’s impact on the sea. 

To paint a more complete picture of activities taking place across the ocean, Global Fishing Watch routinely provides training and analytical support for its partners and other stakeholders. Through this capacity building initiative, we seek to strengthen the skills, abilities and processes of those using our map and products.

Earlier this year, we reinstated our in-person training program after nearly two years of suspension due to COVID-19, allowing a team of experts to visit two nations in Latin AmericaPanama and Uruguayto exchange knowledge with local authorities and explore the capabilities of various monitoring tools to embrace fisheries transparency.

Our trainings in Latin America aim to increase understanding of how our technology can be used to enhance the control, monitoring and surveillance of fishing fleets. We provide relevant stakeholders with information and technical guidance to effectively utilize the Global Fishing Watch data and products to enhance their fisheries research, policy and management.

Experts Present Results
Experts from Global Fishing Watch and the Aquatic Resources Authority of Panama present results of their practices creating analysis combining AIS and VMS data for analysis of vessels’ activity. © Global Fishing Watch

Combining data to get comprehensive monitoring results

At the end of May, during a training session at the Aquatic Resources Authority of Panama’s (ARAP) monitoring and control center, ten technical experts on transshipment learned to combine automatic identification system (AIS) and vessel monitoring system (VMS) data to form a more comprehensive analysis of vessel behavior, that is capable of filling in the gaps of an individual system.

Through a series of training exercises, these ten officers shared their experiences using our map and carrier vessel portal and demonstrated how these global monitoring tools helped reveal one suspicious vessel in particular: a refrigerated cargo vessel identified as GLOBAL MARINER. 

Panamanian authorities discovered a discrepancy in the GLOBAL MARINER tracking data. While VMS transmissions showed the vessel anchored in the port of Mawei, China, its AIS transmissions on the Global Fishing Watch map placed the vessel operating thousands of miles away, in the Indian Ocean.

Contravening Panamanian regulations, the cargo vessel failed to report that its VMS device was being kept in port while it continued to carry out fishing activities. With reliable satellite data to prove the unusual case, Panama sanctioned the GLOBAL MARINER with a fine of USD $300,000 for carrying out undeclared transshipments and not having its VMS device on board.

During the training in Panama, the map and carrier vessel portal operation were demonstrated in detail, including examples of how authorities can leverage these products for monitoring and surveillance of cargo vessels flagged to Panama. Currently, there are more than 350 Panamanian vessels publicly visible on the Global Fishing Watch map; most of them are cargo vessels supporting fishing activities around the world. Last year, the carrier vessel portal registered more than 3,000 transshipment encounters with Panamanian vessels. Participants in the workshop also explored how to use the map to verify the actions of the vessels’ activity before entering port as an exercise outlined in the Agreement on Port States Measures.

GFW map
AIS tracks of GLOBAL MARINER engaging in fishing activity throughout the Indian Ocean (green line) while VMS data shows the vessel anchored in the port of Mawei in China (orange dot). Vessel picture from the NPFC. © Global Fishing Watch

Discovering the power of technology for maritime security in Uruguay

In June, supported by the local Organization for the Conservation of Cetaceans, an implementing partner for the Un Solo Mar project (OCC/Un Solo Mar), our team delivered a workshop on Global Fishing Watch’s different monitoring tools at the National Directorate of Aquatic Resources (DINARA) in Montevideo, Uruguay. Twenty-seven people from various government institutions like the Navy, the Ministry of Environment, and DINARA came together to learn about the fundamental concepts of fisheries transparency and how the country can leverage satellite technology and open data to enhance its monitoring systems. 

During the training, practical exercises to enhance maritime domain awareness were top priority, with a special focus on monitoring and surveillance of the country’s exclusive economic zone, evaluation of fishing effort and examination of a vessel’s activity prior to entering the port.

Agustin Loureiro, an onboard observer with over 20 years of experience, attributed Global Fishing Watch products in the evolution of fishing monitoring, control and surveillance. “It is incredible how all the information of a given fishing fleet is beginning to be systematized, revealing the true impact of fishing activity around the world,” Loureiro said.

Authorities of Uruguay presenting results
National Authorities of Uruguay presenting results during the Global Fishing Watch training session. © Proyecto Un solo mar (OCC)

Empowering people to harness technology

By using data-driven technologies, such as machine learning and artificial intelligence, Global Fishing Watch is making vessel data freely available to the public, helping reveal fishing activity in national waters and on the high seas. These products allow governments and authorities complementary sources of information to verify reported fishing activity and understand the fishing effort taking place within their waters.

Global Fishing Watch is continuing to develop training and outreach work to increase awareness of its open-access monitoring tools and equip regular users with the enhanced knowledge and skills to take full advantage of this technology. We hope practitioners from around the globe realize the potential of these tools in managing fisheries sustainably.

Edaysi Bucio Bustos is an Analysis Manager in Latin America, Eloy Aroni is a Fisheries Analyst, and Alejandro Canio is Program Officer in Latin America at Global Fishing Watch.

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