Interactive map shows over 35,000 fishing vessels at work on the world’s oceans

29 Oct 2016

Interactive map shows how busy life on the ocean really is. Image: Ruth Peterkin/Shutterstock

The surface of the earth is over 71pc ocean, and yet we know so little about what goes on at sea. This interactive map shows you how industrious our oceans really are.

If you are of a musical bent, then The Waterboys’ Fisherman’s Blues would speak to you on so many levels, mostly about escapism and the dream of a less complicated life.

But, if you are the serious documentary type, then Deadliest Catch probably presents a more jarring picture of life at sea. My own personal favourite is Whale Wars, which captures the endeavours of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society’s campaign on the vessel MY Steve Irwin. The show depicts the young crew battling against Japanese whaling, and captures the sheer conviction, heroism and determination of the people involved.

But, as you read this, fishing is also a way of life for people all over our planet. There are actually thousands of vessels on the ocean’s surface, hunting and gathering. Most of it is legit, but not all of it.

Thanks to a combined effort from Oceana, Google and SkyTruth using tracking data, here is a map of fishing vessels at work on the world’s oceans.

Interactive map shows over 35,000 fishing vessels at work on the world’s oceans

The tracking data starts in 2012, but continually updates.

The sad reality is, however, that the world is being blighted by overfishing – particularly in prohibited areas, as the crew of the MY Steve Irwin has valiantly shown.

The interactive map keeps track of over 35,000 fishing vessels using a combination of satellite and the ships’ broadcast data.

If you feel strongly about overfishing and the blight on our world’s oceans, then at least let us send you off on a happy note with our favourite fishing TV ad, courtesy of Donegal Catch: “You may be beautiful, but they are keeping my idea on file … in a filing cabinet.”

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years