Tracking the Footprints of Global Fisheries


Using satellite data and machine learning, scientists have mapped activity in fisheries around the world. (National Geographic)

Use our activity on “Fisheries and Seafood Consumption” to help make sense of the new mapping data.

Teachers, scroll down for a quick list of key resources in our Teachers Toolkit.

By making this data public, we are providing governments, management bodies and researchers with the information needed to make transparent and well-informed decisions to better regulate fishing activities and reach conservation and sustainability goals,” says Juan Mayorga, a marine data scientist from our Pristine Seas project. Investigate the data for yourself here.
Map courtesy Global Fishing Watch


Illustration courtesy Global Fishing Watch

Discussion Ideas

  • New research maps the footprint of industrial fishing in the world ocean. What is industrial fishing?
    • Industrial fishing, also called commercial fishing, is the industry responsible for catching and selling fish and other seafood for profit. Commercial fishing is an industry distinct from subsistence fishing (the harvesting of seafood to meet the nutritional needs of a family or community) or sport fishing (the activity of catching fish for competition or recreation).
    • Commercial fishing is often measured by the size of its vessels. The new research considered fishing vessels ranging from six to 146 meters (20 to 413 feet) in length.


  • How was the new research conducted?


From “Tracking the global footprint of fisheries”. David A. Kroodsma et. al. Science. 23 Feb 2018. Vol. 359, Issue 6378, pp. 904-908 DOI: 10.1126/science.aao5646


  • A marine protected area is a part of the ocean where human activity (including fishing) is limited. (Learn more about MPAs here.) How might the new research help support the establishment of new MPAs and other conservation measures?
    • According to Nat Geo, with the new map data, conservationists might be able to display regions that are already less-frequented by fishing vessels, and thus are already prime to be a low-cost, low-maintenance MPAs.



Nat Geo: Industrial Fishing Occupies a Third of the Planet

Nat Geo: Fisheries and Seafood Consumption

Nat Geo: Pristine Seas

Nat Geo: Marine Protected Areas

(extra credit!) Science: Tracking the global footprint of fisheries

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