The Pew Charitable Trusts is a nonprofit organization established between 1948 and 1979 with the purpose of improving public policy and public awareness of environmental, health, state and consumer issues through the provision of useful data and rigorous analysis.
In early 2015 Pew launched a pioneering new technology aimed at reducing illegal or “pirate” fishing called Project Eyes on the Seas. Through a partnership with the British company Satellite Applications Catapult, Project Eyes on the Seas will aid authorities in the monitoring, detection, and response efforts to combat illegal fishing activity across the world’s oceans. Illegal fishing threatens global fish stocks and marine populations, with experts estimating that about one in every five wild fish are caught illegally, either using illegal methods or in protected no-catch zones. This has created a $23.5 billion per year market in illegally caught fish. This problem persists due to the difficulty of establishing effective monitoring efforts on the high seas and in marine protected areas.
Project Eyes on the Seas uses live satellite tracking data to monitor vessel movements and provide authorities with links to information on ship ownership and registration. Executive Vice President of the Pew Charitable Trusts Joshua Reichert said he hopes “this system will enable authorities to share information on those vessels operating outside of the law, build a comprehensive case against them, track them into port or within reach of enforcement vessels, and take action against them.” (http://www.pewtrusts.org/en/about/news-room/press-releases/2015/01/21/pew-unveils-pioneering-technology-to-help-end-illegal-fishing)
The satellite imagery monitoring occurs through the “Virtual Watch Room,” and currently focuses only on the waters surrounding Easter Island and the Pacific Island nation of Palau, but Pew plans to expand the system into more countries and regional fisheries management organizations that want to commit to guarantying that only legally caught fish are taken from the ocean.
Written by: Christopher Ewell, May 26th, 2015