Global Fishing Watch, a leading ocean conservation nonprofit, has received a momentous five-year commitment of $60 million through The Audacious Project. This groundbreaking investment will empower Global Fishing Watch to employ artificial intelligence (AI) and satellite data to revolutionize global ocean management, combat illegal fishing, and safeguard the marine ecosystem.
The Audacious Project, housed within TED (a nonprofit dedicated to "ideas worth spreading"), carefully selects visionary projects that offer bold solutions to critical world challenges. By connecting these initiatives with a network of donors and supporters, The Audacious Project amplifies their impact and accelerates their implementation.
To commemorate World Ocean Day on June 8, Global Fishing Watch's CEO, Tony Long, delivered a TED Talk unveiling the organization's pioneering project. This audacious endeavor aims to map and monitor all industrial activities at sea, providing open access to this knowledge for the benefit of humanity.
Tony Long stated, "Shockingly, little is known about human activity taking place across more than two-thirds of our planet's surface. This must change if we're to restore our ocean's health. We're honored to receive this catalytic funding through The Audacious Project, which clearly signals support for our innovative technology to tackle the urgent crisis in our ocean. With this investment, we can transform how we manage the ocean by making the invisible visible."
Founded in 2015 as a collaboration between Oceana, SkyTruth, and Google, Global Fishing Watch has already demonstrated the power of AI and satellite data to shed light on global fishing activity. They developed the world's first-ever map for visualizing and publicly tracking approximately 70,000 industrial fishing vessels in near real-time.
Under the Open Ocean Project, Global Fishing Watch will combine GPS data with massive amounts of satellite imagery, utilizing machine learning to publicly display the activities of all industrial fishing vessels, hundreds of thousands of small-scale fishing boats, cargo ships, and fixed infrastructure such as aquaculture pens, wind farms, and oil rigs. This innovative initiative will create an unprecedented online window into the impact of human activity on our blue planet.
David Kroodsma, Director of Research and Innovation with Global Fishing Watch, emphasized, "Our initiative is audacious. It is new, big, and bold. We're driven by the potential for impact—and that potential is hugely exciting. Today, anyone can freely access satellite imagery to explore every road and building on land with just a few clicks of a mouse. We want to do the same for the ocean: create a complete, dynamic map of all industrial activity at sea that's free for anyone to view and use."
The absence of accurate and actionable information has hindered efforts in ocean stewardship. Many governments lack the necessary resources to process and analyze data on their boats' fishing locations, catches, and other activities at sea. The Open Ocean Project aims to unleash a new wave of open data and transparency in ocean governance, empowering governments and institutions to improve the management of their waters for the marine environment's protection.
Paolo Domondon, Chief Program Officer with Global Fishing Watch, explained, "To protect the ocean, we need to see and understand everything that happens at sea. And we need to empower institutions and people to act on that knowledge. We'll enable governments to improve the management of their waters to better protect the marine environment and the people who rely on it."
This transformative project has received $60 million in funding from multiple donors, including Acton Family Giving, Ballmer Group, Becht Foundation, Oak Foundation, Laura and Gary Lauder and Family, Lyda Hill Philanthropies,