World’s Fishing Fleets Tracked From Space

For the first time, global fishing activity has been tracked from space. The data collected shows that 55% of the world’s oceans are used for commercial fishing, four times the area that is used for farming. In contrast, fish provides only 1.2% of the world’s food. 

According to the data, China is the world’s top fishing nation. In 2016 Chinese vessels spent 18 million hours catching fish on the high seas, travelling a total of 460 million km.

The fishing fleets of 5 countries (China, Spain, Taiwan Japan and South Korea)  account for more than 85%  of the world’s fishing.

Almost half of the total catch comes from the high seas, where industrial ships fish for tuna and shark. Smaller fleets stay near coastal areas.

The data was collected over a period of four years from 22 billion automated emergency radio signals of over 70,000 ships.  Although it is not totally accurate because smaller boats are not required to use tracking signals, it does show where most of the fishing takes place. Special software was used to generate maps that show where fishing is most intensive, such as the northern Atlantic and northwestern Pacific Ocean.

The study also shows that the biggest influences on fishing come from political and cultural activities. Environmental problems, seasonal differences or the changing of ocean currents do not affect fishing that much.

British fishing vessel
British fishing vessel

Words

  • according to = as reported by …
  • account for = to form a certain part of something
  • activity = things that people do
  • accurate = exact, perfect
  • affect = change
  • although = while
  • automated = here: created automatically
  • billion = a thousand million
  • catch = the fish that are caught at a certain time
  • coastal areas = near land
  • commercial fishing = here: ships catch fish and process them so that they can be sold to customers
  • data = information
  • emergency radio signal = every ship sends  signals to show where they are in case something happens to them
  • environmental = about nature and the world around us
  • fleet = the ships that belong to a country
  • generate = produce
  • global = worldwide
  • high seas = the parts of the ocean that are far away from land
  • in contrast = on the other side
  • influence = the power to affect or change something in a certain way
  • intensive = here: where most of the activity takes place
  • map = drawing of an area that shows where something is
  • ocean current = the movement of water in the world’s oceans
  • provide = offer, give
  • required = need to do or have something
  • seasonal = referring to the seasons
  • space = outside the earth; here: from satellites that orbit the earth
  • track = to follow the movements of an object
  • tuna = large sea fish caught for food
  • vessel = ship