Fishackathon: Techies Join the Fight to Save Our Seas

06/05/2015 03:11 pm ET | Updated Jun 05, 2016

Fish stocks are in massive global decline; invasive species are decimating entire ecosystems; human rights violations have been tied directly to illegal, unregulated, and unreported fishing. This is just a sample of the problems being presented at the second annual 2015 Fishackathon, the world's largest hackathon supporting our oceans, its fisheries and the livelihoods that depend on them.

Our goal is to celebrate World Oceans Day with a solution-based approach to saving our sea by bringing together online developers and sustainable fishing advocates to create tech-based tools to support ocean conservation, fisheries management, traceability and sustainable aquaculture.

Last year's Fishackathon surpassed expectations. What began as a small one-time experiment grew into a global phenomenon hosted by our NGO, GreenWave, the U.S. Department of State, and partners in cities around the world. After a 24-hour sleepless marathon, tech teams emerged with cutting edge solutions. For example, one team designed a mobile app for small-scale fishers' to report illegal fishing by using their phones to automatically dispatch drones to snap photos of ships trawling in protected zones.

Building on last year's success, the 2015 Fishackathon has expanded its reach to include over 15 cities with teams in Asia, Europe, and North and South America. And supporting organizations have expanded to the World Wildlife Fund, NOAA, USAID, The Nature Conservancy, a global network of aquariums and the EPA.

The technologies created during the Fishackathon will be judged by a panel of experts and the top three will be award prizes. More importantly, the resulting technologies will be further developed and applied globally to solve the on-going fishery problems.

According to Brendan Coffey, GreenWave Deputy Director and lead organizer of the Fishackathon, "Technology has changed the face of society everywhere we look. Now's the time to bring this spirit of innovation to save our seas. The guiding principle of the Fishackathon is the belief that building a cross-cutting coalition of techies, scientists, and ocean advocates will spawn new solutions."