Oceana Celebrates the Public Release of Chile’s Fishing Vessel Tracking Data - Oceana USA

Oceana Celebrates the Public Release of Chile’s Fishing Vessel Tracking Data

Chile Shows Leadership on Fisheries Transparency, Oceana Calls on Other Countries to Follow

Press Release Date: March 3, 2020

Location: Santiago, Chile


Megan Jordan | email: mjordan@oceana.org | tel: 202.868.4061


The Chilean government today made its vessel tracking data publicly available through Global Fishing Watch (GFW), which tracks the movements of commercial fishing* vessels in near real-time. By publishing its data, anyone can now remotely monitor more of Chile’s commercial fishing vessels via GFW’s map platform in near real-time, for free.

The launch of this previously private data demonstrates Chile’s commitment to greater transparency in fishing and is the result of Oceana’s collaboration with the Chilean government to increase transparency of commercial fishing in Chilean waters. In 2019, the Chilean government approved a new law that modernizes Chile’s National Fisheries and Aquaculture Service (or Sernapesca) and requires that the once private vessel tracking information, known as Vessel Monitoring System (VMS), be publicly available.

Alicia Gallardo, Sernapesca National Director, highlighted the joint effort with Oceana and said that “We’ve been able to find an effective way to disclose this data, and thanks to the law on modernization, that data is public and can be universally accessible. This is a huge success, because sharing this data publicly can be challenging due to its volume and complexity.”

Oceana has been working for many years to increase transparency in the fisheries sector and to establish large marine parks,” said Liesbeth van der Meer, Vice President, Oceana Chile. “We believe that Global Fishing Watch will be a great tool to help local communities, and other groups, observe and evaluate the level of compliance in the recently created marine protected areas.

GFW provides an unprecedented view of global fishing activity by using machine learning to interpret data from various vessel tracking sources, including Automatic Identification System (AIS) and VMS data. While AIS is required for the largest vessels that catch a disproportionately large amount of fish, adding VMS data, which is required by some governments, to the GFW map provides an even clearer picture of fishing on our global ocean.

By publishing its VMS data to the GFW platform, Chile is adding more than 700 fishing vessels and over 800 vessels that provide support for aquaculture. These vessels will be viewable by anyone accessing the public map, including governments, fishery managers, seafood buyers, researchers and nonprofit organizations.

I applaud Chile’s leadership in promoting transparency at sea,” said Jacqueline Savitz, Chief Policy Officer at Oceana. “With increased transparency, we can all can see beyond the horizon and better address illegal fishing, human trafficking and other threats facing our oceans. Addressing these threats will allow Chile and the world to reap the benefits of transparent and more abundant oceans. We’re calling on other countries to follow Chile’s leadership to advance transparency at sea.”

With a coastline of 2,500 miles, Chile is the world’s eighth largest fishing nation with approximately $6 billion in annual seafood exports. The new agreement will enhance vessel monitoring to help address overfishing and illegal fishing in Chilean waters. In 2017, the Chilean government established three marine protected areas, which cover 450,000 square miles and include a rich diversity of marine life.

“Chile’s decision to publish their vessel tracking data via the Global Fishing Watch public map reinforces their continued world leadership in environmental conservation and responsible stewardship of our ocean,” said Tony Long, CEO, Global Fishing Watch. “The Chilean government is adding real momentum to the global shift towards greater transparency in fishing activity, which is fundamental to improving fisheries management in the Pacific, and globally. We welcome Chile’s commitment to tackling illegal fishing, which represents a serious threat to sustainable global fisheries, the well-being of fishing communities, and the future of our ocean. Congratulations from Global Fishing Watch, we look forward to successful collaboration.

In 2017, Indonesia became the first nation to make its proprietary VMS data available via GFW’s platform – instantly putting 5,000 smaller commercial fishing vessels that do not use AIS on the map. Since then, Peru shared its VMS data in October 2018 and Panama shared its VMS data in October 2019.  Costa Rica and Namibia have made public commitments to publish their data on the GFW platform.

Public sharing of VMS data, including lists of authorized vessels, helps improve surveillance and encourages vessels to comply with regulations. Unauthorized vessels, and those with a history of non-compliance, can be identified more easily and prioritized for inspections, while vessels that turn off tracking devices can be held accountable when they come into port.

Overfishing and illegal fishing put our oceans and our global food supply at risk of collapse,” said Melissa Wright, of Bloomberg Philanthropies. “At Bloomberg Philanthropies, our Vibrant Oceans Initiative helps to increase transparency on our oceans and restore fisheries. By making its vessel data available to the world, the Chilean government is setting an example for healthier, more productive oceans.

Global Fishing Watch, in partnership with Oceana and other organizations, is committed to working with 20 countries to publicly share their vessel monitoring data via the GFW map by 2022 to advance responsible fisheries management.

Visuals: Download supporting visuals here.

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 more than 200 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. Visit www.oceana.org to learn more.

*Any and all references to “fishing” should be understood in the context of Global Fishing Watch’s fishing detection algorithm, which is a best effort to determine “apparent fishing effort” based on vessel speed and direction data from the Automatic Identification System (AIS) collected via satellites and terrestrial receivers. As AIS data varies in completeness, accuracy and quality, it is possible that some fishing effort is not identified and conversely, that some fishing effort identified is not fishing. For these reasons, Global Fishing Watch qualifies all designations of vessel fishing effort, including synonyms of the term “fishing effort,” such as “fishing” or “fishing activity,” as “apparent,” rather than certain. Any/all Global Fishing Watch information about “apparent fishing effort” should be considered an estimate and must be relied upon solely at your own risk. Global Fishing Watch is taking steps to make sure fishing effort designations are as accurate as possible.