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News Article | February 22, 2017
Site: www.businesswire.com

BALI, Indonesia--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Oceana today released a report exposing the global scale of transshipping at sea, a practice that can mask illegal fishing practices and conceal human rights abuses. The report, which was released at The Economist’s World Ocean Summit in Bali, Indonesia, uses a new dataset released by Global Fishing Watch and Oceana’s partner SkyTruth to identify likely transshipping hotspots as well as the top countries whose vessels were involved in suspected rendezvous at sea and the ports they most frequently visited. Transshipping enables fishing vessels to remain at sea for extended periods of time. Fishing vessels and refrigerated cargo vessels rendezvous at sea in order to transfer seafood, fuel or supplies. While this transshipping practice can be legal in many cases, it also can facilitate the laundering of illegally caught fish, especially on the high seas and in waters surrounding developing and small island nations with insufficient resources to police their waters. “The practice of transshipping at sea can undermine fisheries management, threaten food security and facilitate unethical activities on our oceans,” said Jacqueline Savitz, Senior Vice President for the United States and Global Fishing Watch at Oceana. “When fishing vessels that remain at sea for many months at a time can hide the amounts of fish they are catching and selling, it makes it difficult to enforce sustainable fishing laws. This prevents fisheries managers from maintaining healthy fish populations and rebuilding those that are overfished – a necessary process especially given global food security concerns. By avoiding scrutiny at port, captains can conceal suspicious activities like illegal fishing, human rights abuses and seafood fraud. The only way to ensure an end to illicit activities on our oceans is to ban transshipping at sea, require vessel tracking for all fishing vessels and establish consistent seafood catch reporting requirements worldwide.” Oceana analyzed a new dataset released by its partner SkyTruth and Global Fishing Watch, the product of a partnership between Oceana, SkyTruth and Google, identifying 5,065 likely rendezvous of refrigerated cargo vessels with the largest commercial fishing vessels between 2012 and 2016. For a description of the dataset used to generate this map, and of the methods behind the data, see globalfishingwatch.org for SkyTruth and Global Fishing Watch’s companion report on the data analysis behind transshipment. Oceana is the largest international advocacy organization dedicated solely to ocean conservation. Oceana is rebuilding abundant and biodiverse oceans by winning science-based policies in countries that control one third of the world’s wild fish catch. With over 100 victories that stop overfishing, habitat destruction, pollution and killing of threatened species like turtles and sharks, Oceana’s campaigns are delivering results. A restored ocean means that one billion people can enjoy a healthy seafood meal, every day, forever. Together, we can save the oceans and help feed the world. To learn more, visit www.oceana.org.


News Article | November 20, 2016
Site: www.theguardian.com

Facial recognition software is most commonly known as a tool to help police identify a suspected criminal by using machine learning algorithms to analyze his or her face against a database of thousands or millions of other faces. The larger the database, with a greater variety of facial features, the smarter and more successful the software becomes – effectively learning from its mistakes to improve its accuracy. Now, this type of artificial intelligence is starting to be used in fighting a specific but pervasive type of crime – illegal fishing. Rather than picking out faces, the software tracks the movement of fishing boats to root out illegal behavior. And soon, using a twist on facial recognition, it may be able to recognize when a boat’s haul includes endangered and protected fish. The latest effort to use artificial intelligence to fight illegal fishing is coming from Virginia-based The Nature Conservancy (TNC), which launched a contest on Kaggle – a crowdsourcing site based in San Francisco that uses competitions to advance data science –earlier this week. TNC hopes the winning team will write software to identify specific species of fish. The program will run on cameras, called electronic monitors, which are installed on fishing boats and used for documenting the catch. The software will put a marker at each point in the video when a protected fish is hauled in. Inspectors, who currently spend up to six hours manually reviewing a single 10-hour fishing day, will then be able to go directly to those moments and check a fishing crew’s subsequent actions to determine whether they handled the bycatch legally – by making best efforts to return it to the sea unharmed. TNC expects this approach could cut review time by up to 40% and increase the monitoring on a boat. Despite rules that call for government-approved auditors to be stationed on 5% of commercial fishing boats in the Western and Central Pacific, in practice the auditors are found only around 2% of the fishing boats, including tuna long liners. As a result, fishermen sometimes keep protected fish that they hook – including sharks that are killed for their lucrative fins. In the Pacific’s $7bn tuna fishery, illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing not only harms fragile fish stocks, it takes an economic toll of up to $1.5bn. The impact shows up many ways, including lost income for fishermen in the legal marketplace and harm to the tourist economy that sells snorkelers and divers the opportunity to witness protected species in the wild. Worldwide, cost estimates related to IUU reach $23bn annually, and the take represents up to 20% of all seafood. Using technology to track and prevent illegal fishing presents an opportunity for technology companies as the fishing industry seeks ways to comply with the growing demand for transparency from governments and consumers. “If using facial recognition software to track fish were easy, we’d already be using it,” says Matthew Merrifield, TNC’s chief technology officer. Whereas images from security cameras installed inside banks or other buildings are consistent and predictable, “the data from (electronic monitoring) cameras on boats is dirty, because the ships are always moving and the light keeps changing”. Because of the “dirty” data, it will not be easy to write a facial recognition software that can accurately spot protected species when the variable conditions on the high seas could lead to blurry images on the video. Given those challenges, it’s too early to know how large this market will grow, or how quickly. While the use of artificial intelligence to reduce illegal catch is relatively new, the Kaggle contest isn’t the first time it is being applied to the fishing industry. San Francisco-based startup Pelagic Data Systems (PDS) has developed technology that illuminates the activity of some of the 4.6m small-scale commercial fishing boats that ply coastal waters around the world. Using data from a UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization report, PDS estimates that roughly 95% of those boats don’t have the types of communications and tracking radios that larger boats are required to have, partly because the boats are too small or lack the power source to run the radios. PDS installs a solar powered radio with an integrated GPS receiver and cellular modem on boats. The company collects the location data and analyzes it to create a map to show where the boat traveled and deduce its activities, such as where it stopped to set out nets or other gear and where and for how long it hauled in a catch. This data is vital because it shows whether the boat fished inside or outside marine protected areas. The device doesn’t have an on/off switch, a design to prevent a fishing crew from tampering with data collection. The software also generates heat maps to indicate where the heaviest fishing activities are taking place within a coastal region. By pairing that data with the movements of the boats, PDS can also estimate the quantity and even the size of the fish pulled from those waters, says Dave Solomon, CEO of PDS. The company sells its technology to governments, nonprofits, academic researchers and companies in the fishing industry, and expects the number of boats installed with its device to reach 1,000 in regions such as West Africa, North America and Mexico by the end of the year, Solomon says. Some of his customers install the devices in the boats of their suppliers for another reason: to win over customers by demonstrating transparency in fishing practices. Another effort to use data to fight illegal fishing comes from the nonprofit SkyTruth, which tracks the movement of large ships by mining data broadcast by ships and collected by satellites. Its technology is used by Global Fishing Watch, which is backed by Google, Oceana and the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation. SkyTruth’s data helped the island nation Kirbati to bust illegal fishing operations. But Kaggle has a habit of taking on unusual technical challenges. Earlier this year, it launched a contest with State Farm to develop machine learning software, to be embedded in dashboard cameras, to classify a driver’s behavior, such as being distracted by a smartphone when behind the wheel. Kaggle, with a membership of 650,000 data scientists, hasn’t tackled an environmental problem before. But its CEO, Anthony Goldbloom, thinks the TNC contest could represent the start of environmental competitions on its site because scientists from government agencies and academic institutions are collecting a growing amount of field data using cameras and sensors. TNC contest attracted 44 teams within the first day. Each team has five months to submit its software. While the contest presents an appealing opportunity to do something good for the environment, it doesn’t promise a big payoff. That will make it difficult for software developers and data scientists to raise venture capital to fund their efforts. “Silicon Valley only invests in places with big money [potential],” says Andrew Bosworth, vice president of ads and business platform for Facebook and a board member of land conservation group Peninsula Open Space Trust. “Plus, everyone underestimates [environmental] challenges. Going to the moon is easier than tracking fishing. It really is. So these are big challenges without financial incentives to solve them.” But, he adds, Silicon Valley does provide important undergirding for using technology to solve environmental problems. Bosworth argues that the advancement in core technologies behind things like multiplayer gaming software and smartphone apps has propelled the rise of machine learning and artificial intelligence and lowered the development costs over time. The winning team of the contest will earn a prize of $150,000. Then, as part of its campaign to reduce bycatch and illegal fishing in the region, TNC will work with the governments of Palau, Federated States of Micronesia, Solomon Islands and Marshall Islands to install the software, for free, on the electronic monitors of selected fishing boats. If the software proves effective in reducing the labor costs and improving the accuracy of identifying protected species, then it could become a standard feature in electronic monitors. TNC will own the intellectual property of the winning software and make it free to the equipment makers, which include Satlink and Archipelago. The software could become even more widely used if large retailers such as Walmart begin to require electronic monitors on their vendor’s fleets. But it is still early days for policing the fishing industry. For Melissa Garren, chief scientific officer of PDS, that means the market potential is huge. “We should be treating the oceans more like we treat airspace,” she says. “If we had this lack of visibility in the skies, it would be nuts.”


Today, with the release of our report, The Global View of Transshipment: Preliminary Findings, we present the first-ever global footprint of transshipment in the fishing industry. The report explains how data scientists from SkyTruth and Global Fishing Watch (a partnership of Oceana, SkyTruth and Google) analyzed Automatic Identification System (AIS) signals from ships at sea to developed a tool to identify and track 90 percent of the world's large refrigerated cargo vessels, ships that collect catch from multiple fishing boats at sea and carry it to port. According to the analysis, from 2012 through 2016, refrigerated cargo vessels, known as "reefers," participated in more than 5,000 likely transshipments (instances in which they rendezvoused with an AIS-broadcasting fishing vessel and drifted long enough to receive a catch). In addition, the data revealed more than 86,000 potential transshipments in which reefers exhibited transshipment-like behavior, but there were no corresponding AIS signals from fishing vessels. Brian Sullivan, Google's lead for Global Fishing Watch, will present the findings at the Economist World Ocean Summit in Indonesia today. The report, along with the underlying data and our list of likely and suspected transshipments, will be freely available on our website, globalfishingwatch.org. The global scale of transshipment and its ability to facilitate suspicious activity, such as illegal fishing and human rights abuses, is exposed in a complementary report being issued today by our partners at Oceana. The opportunity for mixing legal and illegal catch during the collection of fish from multiple fishing boats provides an easy route for illegal players to get their product to market. This obscures the seafood supply chain from hook to port and hobbles efforts at sustainability because it prevents an accurate measurement of the amount of marine life being taken from the sea. Among the many findings, Global Fishing Watch data documents that transshipment in offshore coastal waters is more common in regions with a high proportion of Illegal, Unregulated and Unreported (IUU) fishing than in regions where management is strong such as in North America and Europe. The data also revealed clusters of transshipment along the Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs) of some countries, and inside those zones of nations rated strongly for corruption and having limited monitoring capabilities. "These correlations do not provide any proof of specific illegal behavior," says Global Fishing Watch Research Program Director, David Kroodsma, and lead author on the report, "but they raise important questions and can lead to more informed international efforts by fisheries management organizations to prevent or better regulate transshipment." According to Oceana's report, three of the top eight countries visited by reefers have not yet ratified an international treaty meant to eliminate illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing, and therefore may have weaker regulations that would make it easier for illegally caught fish to enter the global marketplace. The report calls for the banning of transshipment at sea and expanded mandates for unique identifiers and vessel tracking for fishing vessels. The new analytical tools SkyTruth and Global Fishing Watch have developed using public domain AIS data can enable fisheries managers to identify and monitor transshipment anywhere in the world, permanently lifting the veil from the previously invisible practice of transshipment. The results were obtained through an analysis of over 21 billion satellite signals from Automatic Identification System messages broadcast by ocean-going vessels between 2012 and 2016. Using an artificial intelligence system developed by Global Fishing Watch, Kroodsma's team identified refrigerated cargo vessels based on their movement patterns. Verifying their results with confirmed fishery registries and open source online resources, they identified 794 reefers. That represents 90 percent of the world's reefer vessels identified in 2010 according to the US Central Intelligence Agency World Factbook. Through further analysis, they mapped 5065 instances in which a reefer and a fishing vessel were moving at a certain speed within a certain proximity to one another for a certain length of time.) Our algorithm was verified by matching a subset of these "likely transshipments" to known transshipments recorded by fishing registries. The data also revealed 86,490 potential transshipments, instances in which reefers that appeared to be alone traveled in a pattern and at a speed consistent with transshipment. Their activity cannot be verified, but given that many fishing vessels turn off their AIS device when they do not want to be detected, and some fishing vessels do not have AIS, these events must be considered potential transshipments. Explore further: Ships flagged for illegal fishing still able to get insurance, study finds


News Article | February 22, 2017
Site: www.eurekalert.org

Transshipment, the transfer of goods from one boat to another, is a major pathway for illegally caught and unreported fish to enter the global seafood market. It has also been associated with drug smuggling and slave labor. Illegal in many cases, transshipment has been largely invisible and nearly impossible to manage, because it often occurs far from shore and out of sight. Until now. Today, with the release of our report, The Global View of Transshipment: Preliminary Findings, we present the first-ever global footprint of transshipment in the fishing industry. The report explains how data scientists from SkyTruth and Global Fishing Watch (a partnership of Oceana, SkyTruth and Google) analyzed Automatic Identification System (AIS) signals from ships at sea to developed a tool to identify and track 90 percent of the world's large refrigerated cargo vessels, ships that collect catch from multiple fishing boats at sea and carry it to port. According to the analysis, from 2012 through 2016, refrigerated cargo vessels, known as "reefers," participated in more than 5,000 likely transshipments (instances in which they rendezvoused with an AIS-broadcasting fishing vessel and drifted long enough to receive a catch). In addition, the data revealed more than 86,000 potential transshipments in which reefers exhibited transshipment-like behavior, but there were no corresponding AIS signals from fishing vessels. Brian Sullivan, Google's lead for Global Fishing Watch, will present the findings at the Economist World Ocean Summit in Indonesia today. The report, along with the underlying data and our list of likely and suspected transshipments, will be freely available on our website, globalfishingwatch.org. The global scale of transshipment and its ability to facilitate suspicious activity, such as illegal fishing and human rights abuses, is exposed in a complementary report being issued today by our partners at Oceana. The opportunity for mixing legal and illegal catch during the collection of fish from multiple fishing boats provides an easy route for illegal players to get their product to market. This obscures the seafood supply chain from hook to port and hobbles efforts at sustainability because it prevents an accurate measurement of the amount of marine life being taken from the sea. Among the many findings, Global Fishing Watch data documents that transshipment in offshore coastal waters is more common in regions with a high proportion of Illegal, Unregulated and Unreported (IUU) fishing than in regions where management is strong such as in North America and Europe. The data also revealed clusters of transshipment along the Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs) of some countries, and inside those zones of nations rated strongly for corruption and having limited monitoring capabilities. "These correlations do not provide any proof of specific illegal behavior," says Global Fishing Watch Research Program Director, David Kroodsma, and lead author on the report, "but they raise important questions and can lead to more informed international efforts by fisheries management organizations to prevent or better regulate transshipment." According to Oceana's report, three of the top eight countries visited by reefers have not yet ratified an international treaty meant to eliminate illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing, and therefore may have weaker regulations that would make it easier for illegally caught fish to enter the global marketplace. The report calls for the banning of transshipment at sea and expanded mandates for unique identifiers and vessel tracking for fishing vessels. The new analytical tools SkyTruth and Global Fishing Watch have developed using public domain AIS data can enable fisheries managers to identify and monitor transshipment anywhere in the world, permanently lifting the veil from the previously invisible practice of transshipment. The results were obtained through an analysis of over 21 billion satellite signals from Automatic Identification System messages broadcast by ocean-going vessels between 2012 and 2016. Using an artificial intelligence system developed by Global Fishing Watch, Kroodsma's team identified refrigerated cargo vessels based on their movement patterns. Verifying their results with confirmed fishery registries and open source online resources, they identified 794 reefers. That represents 90 percent of the world's reefer vessels identified in 2010 according to the US Central Intelligence Agency World Factbook. Through further analysis, they mapped 5065 instances in which a reefer and a fishing vessel were moving at a certain speed within a certain proximity to one another for a certain length of time.) Our algorithm was verified by matching a subset of these "likely transshipments" to known transshipments recorded by fishing registries. The data also revealed 86,490 potential transshipments, instances in which reefers that appeared to be alone traveled in a pattern and at a speed consistent with transshipment. Their activity cannot be verified, but given that many fishing vessels turn off their AIS device when they do not want to be detected, and some fishing vessels do not have AIS, these events must be considered potential transshipments. This work was supported by a grant to SkyTruth from the Walton Family Foundation and made possible by Google through the in-kind use of Google's cloud computing platforms and technical and project guidance. The free report and associated datasets will be available at http://GlobalFishingWatch. . Images will be available online here: http://blog. Learn more about Ocean's transshipment report here: http://www. Oceana is the largest international advocacy organization dedicated solely to ocean conservation. Oceana is rebuilding abundant and biodiverse oceans by winning science-based policies in countries that control one third of the world's wild fish catch. With over 100 victories that stop overfishing, habitat destruction, pollution and killing of threatened species like turtles and sharks, Oceana's campaigns are delivering results. A restored ocean means that one billion people can enjoy a healthy seafood meal, every day, forever. Together, we can save the oceans and help feed the world. To learn more, visit http://usa. . SkyTruth is a nonprofit organization using remote sensing and digital mapping to create stunning images that expose the environmental impact of natural resource extraction and other human activities. We use satellite imagery and geospatial data to create compelling and scientifically credible visuals and resources to inform environmental advocates, policy-makers, the media, and the public. To learn more, visit SkyTruth.org. Google Earth Outreach is a team dedicated to leveraging and developing Google's infrastructure to address environmental and humanitarian issues through partnerships with non-profits, educational institutions, and research groups. To learn more, visit earth.google.com/outreach. *Global Fishing Watch analyzes Automatic Identification System (AIS) data collected from vessels that our research has identified as known or possible commercial fishing vessels, and applies a fishing detection algorithm to determine "apparent fishing activity" based on changes in vessel speed and direction. As AIS data varies in completeness, accuracy and quality, it is possible that some fishing activity is not identified as such by Global Fishing Watch; conversely, Global Fishing Watch may show apparent fishing activity where fishing is not actually taking place. For these reasons, Global Fishing Watch qualifies all designations of vessel fishing activity, including synonyms of the term "fishing activity," such as "fishing" or "fishing effort," as "apparent," rather than certain. Any/all Global Fishing Watch information about "apparent fishing activity" should be considered an estimate and must be relied upon solely at your own risk.


News Article | February 15, 2017
Site: www.prweb.com

WEBTEXT announced today that it has expanded its relationship with Avaya, with WEBTEXT now officially a member of the Avaya DevConnect Select Product Program (SPP). SPP is a unique reselling program that simplifies the process for Avaya customers, Avaya sales teams and channel partners to order strategically-selected third party solutions. “We’re very excited to support Avaya customers,” said AJ Cahill, WEBTEXT CEO speaking at Avaya Engage 2017 in Las Vegas. “Using Avaya SKU codes, SPP creates a one-stop ordering experience for enterprise customers, channel partners, and Avaya sales teams who can now order DevConnect messaging solutions for their contact center and business systems.” “Select” solutions can be purchased through SPP using established Avaya order processes and Avaya material codes. SPP eliminates the need for a customer/channel to negotiate unique agreements with each Partner and clearly defines the roles of both Avaya and its Partners. WEBTEXT products in SPP complement and augment Avaya’s advanced technology products to create complete solutions. Under SPP, Avaya now offers turnkey automated to person (A2P) and person to person (P2P) messaging products as part of the greater Avaya Contact Center suite of products. Avaya Engage is the largest annual conference for Avaya customers and business communications professionals spanning the full Avaya ecosystem. This week at Avaya Engage 2017, WEBTEXT will demonstrate its unique turnkey contact center messaging solutions featuring SMS, MMS, Facebook Messenger and Twitter messaging channels at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Feb 13-15, booth #627. WEBTEXT is an Avaya DevConnect Technology Partner and the No. 1 messaging CPaaS (Communications Platform as a Service) for contact center. WEBTEXT award winning solutions are integrated with approx. 80% of all contact center & CRM platforms on the market, including, Avaya AACC, ACCS, AIC, EMC, Experience Portal, Proactive Outreach Manager, Oceana and Breeze. WEBTEXT global network of gateways delivers feature-rich messaging worldwide and powers DemoAvaya contact center demonstration systems. No other CPaaS offers as many turnkey contact center messaging integrations as WEBTEXT. Messaging is easy to deploy and users keep their existing voice provider. WEBTEXT customers include government and Fortune 2000, as well as large and small enterprise. For additional information about WEBTEXT, please visit http://www.webtext.com, or contact:


News Article | December 2, 2016
Site: www.24-7pressrelease.com

MUSKEGON, MI, December 02, 2016 /24-7PressRelease/ -- A Muskegon-based nonprofit that provides independent living resources for people with disabilities, DNWM is looking for volunteers to support its work in Muskegon, Oceana, Newaygo, Lake and Mason counties. The ideal volunteer will become educated on the Americans with Disabilities Act and be eager to understand the barriers that those with disabilities encounter, and then assist DNWM by sharpening its advocacy and outreach through a broad range of community activities. DNWM is in need of volunteers who are willing to: • Office assistance • Plan and lead fundraising activities • Represent DNWM at community events • Write blogs • Interact with legislators • Draft letters to legislators • Give presentations • Visit people with disabilities living in nursing facilities • Mentor youth in transition living with disabilities • Assist in evaluating accessibility throughout the community, at businesses and in public buildings • Assist in evaluating polling locations and their level of accessibility • Coordinate and help plan events to increase awareness and encourage public discussions • Participate in community advocacy focus groups concentrated on transportation, housing and employment • Provide peer support to individuals who are struggling to maintain or achieve their independence "Our organization is seeking motivated individuals who support the independent living movement," said Tamera Collier, Disability Network West Michigan executive director. "Disability Network West Michigan relies heavily on volunteers to assist our consumers in developing skills and making our communities more accessible." All volunteers are required to participate in an orientation and training. If you would like to learn more about volunteer opportunities or sign up as a volunteer, call Disability Network West Michigan at 231.722.0088. About Disability Network West Michigan: Disability Network West Michigan provides independent living resources for people with disabilities in Muskegon, Oceana, Newaygo, Lake and Mason counties. The mission of the nonprofit organization, which is part of the statewide network of Centers for Independent Living, is to empower, educate, advocate, and provide resources for those with disabilities as well as promoting accessible communities. For more information, visit http://www.disabilitynetworkwm.org.


News Article | March 1, 2017
Site: www.24-7pressrelease.com

MUSKEGON, MI, March 01, 2017 /24-7PressRelease/ -- The Muskegon-based nonprofit offers "Small Changes, Big Differences," a training program that offers individuals living with disabilities a gateway to autonomy and makes independence achievable. The program, which is free, provides demonstrations on assistive technology that help people stay in their homes longer and provide the tools and know-how to take care of themselves. Janet Perreault, nursing facilities transitions outreach coordinator at Disability Network West Michigan, leads consumers through a detailed explanation of a kit containing 50 to 60 low-cost items that address specific needs for cooking, bathing, grooming, dressing and other daily activities. The devices include magnifiers for the visually impaired, glucose meters for diabetics, medicine boxes designed for those with memory issues and many more. "Small Changes, Big Differences has made a tremendous impact on the lives of many of our consumers," Perreault said. "For instance, after 20 years of delivering the mail, one of our consumers had a stroke. From that point forward, he depended on a sibling to button his shirts, tie his shoes and help him dress." "But after training him to use a simple adaptive device, elastic cords for laces and a buttonhole device for clothing, he was again able to dress himself. Watching the consumer regain his independence was proof that small changes can make a big difference." Group trainings and one-on-one demonstrations are free of charge and offered through a partnership with the Michigan Disability Rights Coalition. Anyone interested in learning more about Small Changes, Big Differences or to request a presentation should contact Perreault at 231.722.0088 or at janetp@disabilitynetworkwm.org About Disability Network West Michigan: Disability Network West Michigan provides independent living resources for people with disabilities in Muskegon, Oceana, Newaygo, Lake and Mason counties. The mission of the nonprofit organization, which is part of the statewide network of Centers for Independent Living, is to empower, educate, advocate and provide resources for those with disabilities as well as promoting accessible communities. For more information, visit http://www.disabilitynetworkwm.org.


News Article | February 15, 2017
Site: www.bbc.co.uk

Braving the choppy waters of the South Atlantic four days a week, fisherman David Shoshola says a mobile phone app is helping him worry less about the risk of not being able to support his family. The 50-year-old and three colleagues fish from two small, open-deck boats based in the seaside town of Lambert's Bay, on South Africa's windswept west coast. Fishing using lines rather than nets, they typically catch just 20 fish a day per vessel, with the main species being snoek (a type of mackerel), and sea bream. It's a tough life, and like anyone in his trade, Mr Shoshola has two main concerns - finding the fish in the first place, and then being able to sell his catch. A new app called Abalobi is helping him to do both more easily. The app, which is being piloted by the University of Cape Town, utilises GPS so Mr Shoshola can record for future reference exactly where he had a good haul. And he can now sell the fish via Abalobi before he has returned to shore, easily finding out the best possible price. "It has removed a lot of the worry," he says. "I have a wife and three kids to support, and it gives me much more security." With the help of a growing number of apps and digital services such as Abalobi, it has never been easier to pinpoint the exact spot where the prized fish await, and then sell them after you have caught them. But with ever increasing concerns about depleting global fish stocks - the United Nations claims that 90% of the world's stocks are either full-fished or over-fished - is that a good thing? Many of the digital fish trackers, including Abalobi, claim to have conservation at their heart, but not everybody is convinced. "The problem is that in practice all that happens is unscrupulous people use apps to target the fish and wipe them out even quicker," says UK fishing expert Matt Hayes, who runs an Atlantic salmon fishery in Norway. He is also worried that small-scale fishermen could ultimately become unemployed. "You don't want to deprive someone of a living, but you don't want to bestow upon them the tech that means they will fish themselves out of existence. "I wrestle with it a lot. It concerns me." However, Dr Clive Trueman, associate professor of marine ecology at the UK's National Oceanography Centre, is more positive about apps like Abalobi. "It's nothing that commercial fishermen haven't been doing by word of mouth for centuries," he says. "Some of these apps may also end up being very effective for scientists and managers to work out where the fish are, and where they are going. "We can use them to catch more fish, but also to direct conservation." Serge Raemaekers, a fisheries researcher at Abalobi, says that conservation is at the very centre of their scheme. Using Google's cloud platform technology, data collected by the fishermen is to be shared with students at the University of Cape Town who are monitoring the sustainability of South Africa's fish stocks. The fishermen can also use the technology to monitor stocks, and stay away from any areas where they themselves think the fish population should be left to recover. Technology is also being used on a worldwide scale to protect fish stocks. In September last year, Google joined with ocean conservation group Oceana to launch Global Fishing Watch (GFW), a free platform that tracks the location of the world's commercial fishing boats. It does this by utilising the fact that more than 200,000 sea vessels constantly transmit their position, speed and direction via the global automatic identification system (AIS). GFW, which also uses Google's cloud computing services, already has more than 25,000 registered users, and more using the website without logging in. "Anyone who is interested in a vessel, and wants to know where it is today, can go to a variety of sources that provide real-time data, and see where it is at that moment," says Jackie Savitz, senior vice president at Oceana. "Authorities find out suspicious activity and then track vessels down." Suspicious activity includes ships that switch off AIS or don't use it at all. "It's possible the bad guys turn off AIS," says Ms Savitz. "But we can see when they turn it off, and we see it when it comes back on." GFW has already notched up some success stories - using its data, a vessel was caught fishing in the Phoenix Islands Protected Area in the Central Pacific and forced to pay a $2m (£1.6m) fine to the Republic of Kiribati, one of the poorest countries in the world. In Italy, the University of Bari has partnered with US technology group IBM since 2012 to pilot a similar cloud-based fishing app to Abalobi. The organisations say it has resulted in more targeted fishing, with the fishermen only catching as many fish as the market demands. Back at Abalobi - which means "traditional fisher" in the isiXhosa language - the project has secured grants from the South African government. It has also been helped by mobile phone network Vodacom allowing the app to be used data-free. More than 100 South African fishermen are now signed up, and Mr Raemaekers says Abalobi is receiving interest from groups in the Seychelles and the UK. Mr Shoshola adds that using the service is helping him and his three friends expand the business, because for the first time they have recorded data that they can take to the bank and use as evidence to help them hook some loans to grow their fishing operation. "I have got the numbers of every daily catch," says Mr Shoshola.


News Article | April 27, 2016
Site: www.sej.org

"Six years on, scientists are continuing to tally the ecological harms caused by the deadly 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. The latest glimpse at the ongoing environmental effects of the disaster came in a new report by the conservation and advocacy group Oceana, which compiled the findings of a broad range of studies — primarily from the past two years — examining the aftermath of the spill. The report makes clear that the reach of the disaster, which ranks as one of the costliest environmental catastrophes ever, continues to grow."


The Kingdom of Oceana will be released as an audiobook in May 2016.

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