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Coders Unite to Use Tech Expertise to Protect Oceans

Sustainability Technology & equipment

GLOBAL - The Fishackathon is a global annual event occurring simultaneously in over 40 cities world-wide over the 22 - 24 April and uses technology to help address sustainable fishing challenges that are threatening our oceans and the marine life that calls the sea their home.

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The event, now in its third year, calls on coders, designers, creatives, architects, product managers, project managers, oceanographers, fishers, ichthyologist, phycologist, algologist, and beach combers from all around the world to come together to create new applications and tools for use on mobile phones, devices, and other end-solutions, which can help fishers work smarter and more safely in sustainable fishing.

The volunteer specialists are being asked to develop a solution which addresses one of the four areas which are challenging fisheries and oceans today:

  • Fisheries Management - drawing on science to find ways to protect fishery resources so sustainable exploitation is possible.
  • Conservation - preservation, protection, or restoration of the earth's natural environment, natural ecosystems, vegetation, wildlife, and biodiversity.
  • Aquaculture - the breeding, rearing, and harvesting of aquatic plants and animals in all types of water environments for food or to enhance recreational, commercial, and ecologically-important species and habitats.
  • Traceability - ability to verify the history, location, or application of an item by means of a documented recorded identification. In particular, we are concerned with the fact that any product is manufactured or produced under safe working conditions, by workers that earn a fair wage and use methods that do not damage the environment or people.

Coders are presented with nine problems statements, which they set about solving over the course of a weekend. The event begins on Friday 22 at The Economist Headquarters, with the results judged on Sunday 24 April.

Last year’s winner, Know Fish, provided a mobile app to help Illegal, Unreported, Unregulated (IUU) investigators and port inspectors by providing easy access to laws, regulations, maps and species — all based on a user’s detected location.

Two of the problem statements open to coders at this year’s Fishackathon were devised by members of the Global Ghost Gear Initiative (GGGI) and look at the issue of ghost fishing gear. World Animal Protection, founder member of the GGGI, facilitated the development of the statements and will be on hand at events in North America and London to support coders alongside members of the GGGI.

Ghost fishing gear refers to any fishing equipment or fishing related litter that has been abandoned, lost or otherwise discarded; also referred to as ‘derelict fishing gear’ and/or ‘fishing litter’. It is one of the biggest threats to animals in our oceans.

World Animal Protection see a range of ways technology can help in addressing ghost gear, from improving the way GPS data is used for spatial management to prevent the accidental loss of gear, to assisting fishermen with locating equipment if lost. Technology could also be used to monitor the movement of ghost gear in our seas and trace the main sources of gear loss, or for identifying different types of nets washing up on our beaches.

World Animal Protection are calling coders to focus on ghost gear so that members of the GGGI can support the trialling and practical implementation of these solutions.

UK Campaigns Manager at World Animal Protection, Christina Dixon, said: “World Animal Protection has identified “ghost gear” as a major threat to ocean life and we know coders can help create solutions to bust these ghosts haunting our oceans for good. People everywhere understand the value of protecting our wildlife and British people specifically understand how protecting ocean life has an impact on the lives of our maritime communities.

The Fishackathon is the perfect opportunity to create the link between innovative technology and the protection of marine wildlife so we are calling all coders interested in being part of the solution to participate in the London event this coming weekend.”

Coders who wish to sign up for the event can do so here.