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Google Unveils New Tool to Track Illegal Fishing [VIDEO]

Nov 14, 2014 12:34 PM EST

It appears that technology giant Google is not afraid of going into unchartered waters. The internet company has just unveiled a new tool in Australia aimed to track illegal fishing in the area and help preserve precious marine life.

By harnessing satellite data, Google's unnamed prototype can track thousands of boats in real time and catch culprits of overfishing in the act.

"So much of what happens out on the high seas is invisible, and that has been a huge barrier to understanding and showing the world what's at stake for the ocean," John Amos, President and Founder of the environmental monitor, SkyTruth, said in a press release.

Together SkyTruth and marine advocacy group Oceana, backed by Google, developed the new system by re-tooling the Automatic Identification System (AIS) network, which picks up GPS broadcasts of a vessel's location to map movements. So far about 3,000 fishing vessels have been tracked.

"Satellite data is allowing us to make human interaction with the ocean more transparent than ever before," Amos added.

According to the Global Ocean Commission, fishing of the high seas has depleted 90 percent of fish stocks, including the ever-popular tuna and swordfish. And with these ocean regions falling beyond national jurisdictions, protecting marine species that swim in the high seas has been difficult.

"While many of the environmental trends in the ocean can be sobering, the combination of cloud computing and massive data is enabling new tools to visualize, understand and potentially reverse these trends," Brian Sullivan of Google's Earth Outreach and Oceans section told the Agence France-Presse (AFP).

Not only could this new monitoring device help save fish populations, but it could also save the world economy money. Illegal fishing costs up to $23.5 billion a year, the Global Ocean Commission estimates.

The prototype, released at the World Parks Congress in Sydney on Friday, is expected to be publicly available in 2015.

[Credit: Global Fishing Watch]

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