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Pacific tuna capture. (Photo: The Nature Conservancy)

Artificial intelligence challenge to contribute to tuna fishery protection

  (WORLDWIDE, 11/17/2016)

The non-government organisation The Nature Conservancy calls for data scientists to join a technology challenge intended to transform Pacific tuna fisheries and ensure a sustainable seafood supply for generations.

Those interested in participating in the challenge must develop a project applying artificial intelligence to the fishing day video review process, which coupled with electronic monitoring on fishing boats could be the answer to restoring the depleting tuna supply, protecting vulnerable species like sharks and turtles, and securing the economies of Pacific island nations.

In this fishery, which is the world’s largest one, an estimated USD 500 million to USD 1.5 billion is lost every year from illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing and the entity is aware that knowing what, where and how much is being caught is key to managing a sustainable fishery.

The Nature Conservancy recognises that it takes a person six hours to review a single, ten-hour fishing day and that there are thousands of boats in the fishery, which go out for weeks or months at a time so when they return, they would have hundreds of hours of footage to review.

“I’m not trying to invent the future. This technology exists but it isn’t typically applied to conservation problems. This will be the first application of artificial intelligence onboard a fishing boat,” said Matt Merrifield, Chief Technology Officer at The Nature Conservancy in California.

The officer commented that cameras help to see what is happening in the open ocean, and artificial intelligence can slash review time by as much as 40 per cent.

To participate in the challenge, data technologists can log onto Kaggle to enter for their chance to solve a global environmental problem.

Teams will have access to hundreds of hours of footage of fishing practices and five months to develop the solution.

The top 5 winning teams will receive USD 150,000; prize money and technical support provided by the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation and Vulcan Inc.

The winning algorithm will be applied to data from 24 fishing boats across the Pacific, in partnership with the governments of Palau, Federated States of Micronesia, Solomon Islands, Japan and Marshall Islands.

The challenge is part of a larger, multi-year campaign called “This is Our Future,” that calls on the technology community and cultural game-changers to disrupt the tired paradigm that human progress is at odds with nature’s needs and step up to the challenge of creating a world where nature and people thrive.

“People have been disrupting nature for decades and it is now time for disruption to bring things back into balance. What if people were the solution and not the problem," concluded Mike Sweeney, The Nature Conservancy’s managing director of global fisheries and executive director of California.


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