15 Aug 2014:
New Citizen Science Software
Aims to Document and Curb Illegal Fishing
Illegal shark fin catch
Citizen scientists can now report — and potentially help stop — illegal fishing
with the snap of a photo thanks to
a new smartphone app developed by the Nature Conservancy. The software, called ShipWatch
, was developed this summer during a "Fishackathon," a series of workshops hosted by the U.S. State Department to foster technology development and collaboration among computer programmers. ShipWatch allows users to upload photos of illegal fishing activities to a database, where they are labeled with date and location information and plotted on a central map. The developers hope the data will help authorities enforce existing fishing laws by, for example, developing flight maps for surveillance drones or strategically deploying enforcement authorities. "There are laws in place to say [the fishing] is illegal. The problem is they lack any kind of reporting mechanism," developers told Fast Co.Exist. "Our idea is to build out a little citizen science tool for any fisherman who's out there on water. They can take a photo and report these guys."