Ghost gear solutions win at multiple cities in Fishackathon 2016

The Fishackathon, a global annual event, took place simultaneously in over 40 cities worldwide over 22 - 24 April and used technology to address sustainable fishing challenges that are threatening our oceans and the marine life that call the sea their home. Innovative solutions to ghost gear were developed around the world and won the day in Atlanta, San Francisco, Dallas, Colombia and Kuwait and came second in Cape Town.

The event, now in its third year, called 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 were asked to develop a solution which addressed one of the four areas which are challenging fisheries and oceans today: fisheries management, conservation, aquaculture and traceability.

Coders were presented with nine problems statements, which they set about solving over the course of the weekend.

Two of the problem statements open to coders at this year’s Fishackathon were devised by participants of the Global Ghost Gear Initiative (GGGI) and looked at the issue of ghost fishing gear.

The first was a solution in the form of an app to allow anyone who finds any form of ghost gear to enter identifying features into a centrally held data portal. In addition to a photo the user would be able to enter characteristics of the gear such as colour, mesh size, twine width, GPS location and whether wildlife (live, complete carcass, or remains) was entangled in the gear upon discovery. This app will help ghost gear mitigation efforts and ultimately save time and money for fisheries and prevent harm to marine animals. 

The second was a mapping tool to show where lobster traps have been set in the Bay of Fundy, Canada to prevent boats from cutting through them and creating ghost gear when travelling through. This will help fishers locate their lost gear and also reduce the entanglement risk to whales who calve and feed in the Bay of Fundy during the summer months. 

The GGGI problem statements were selected by teams of coders around the world in London, New York, Atlanta, California, Florida, Dallas, Seattle, Toronto, Vancouver, Cape Town, Kenya, Colombia, Costa Rica and Taipei and were first place winners in Atlanta, San Francisco, Dallas, Colombia and Kuwait, 2nd place in Cape Town, and 3rd in Vancouver. 

World Animal Protection, founding participant of the GGGI, facilitated the development of the statements and was on hand at events in North America, London, Sydney and Costa Rica to support coders alongside GGGI participants MCB SeafoodsYoung’s SeafoodFundy North Fishermen’s AssociationSteveston Harbour Authority and Salacia Marine

Katherine George GGGI Project Manager at World Animal Protection said:

We are thrilled that coders around the world were working to hack the ghost gear problem which is threatening the health of oceans, the animals that live in them and the livelihoods of people who depend on them. We are looking forward to trialling and implementing the winning solutions and would like to thank all the ghost gear teams around the world who participated in Fishackathon 2016. 

All the Fishackathon winners have been entered into the global competition with the ultimate winner announced on 8th June, World Oceans Day.