Chile Releases Fishing Vessel Tracking Data


Published Mar 7, 2020 9:13 PM by The Maritime Executive

The Chilean government has made its vessel tracking data publicly available through Global Fishing Watch (GFW), which tracks the movements of commercial fishing vessels in near real-time. By publishing its data, anyone can now remotely monitor more of Chile’s commercial fishing vessels via GFW’s map platform in near real-time, for free.

The launch of this previously private data demonstrates Chile’s commitment to greater transparency in fishing and is the result of Oceana’s collaboration with the Chilean government to increase transparency of commercial fishing in Chilean waters. In 2019, the Chilean government approved a new law that modernizes Chile’s National Fisheries and Aquaculture Service and requires that the once private Vessel Monitoring System (VMS) data be publicly available.

GFW provides a view of global fishing activity by using machine learning to interpret data from various vessel tracking sources, including Automatic Identification System (AIS) and VMS data. AIS is required for the largest vessels that catch a disproportionately large amount of fish, but by publishing its VMS data to the GFW platform, Chile is adding more than 700 fishing vessels and over 800 vessels that provide support for aquaculture. 

With a coastline of 2,500 miles, Chile is the world’s eighth largest fishing nation with approximately $6 billion in annual seafood exports. The new agreement will enhance vessel monitoring to help address overfishing and illegal fishing in Chilean waters. In 2017, the Chilean government established three marine protected areas, which cover 450,000 square miles and include a rich diversity of marine life.

Public sharing of VMS data, including lists of authorized vessels, helps improve surveillance and encourages vessels to comply with regulations. Unauthorized vessels, and those with a history of non-compliance, can be identified more easily and prioritized for inspections, while vessels that turn off tracking devices can be held accountable when they come into port.

In 2017, Indonesia became the first nation to make its proprietary VMS data available via GFW’s platform – putting 5,000 smaller commercial fishing vessels that do not use AIS on the map. Since then, Peru shared its VMS data in October 2018, and Panama shared its VMS data in October 2019.  Costa Rica and Namibia have made public commitments to publish their data on the GFW platform.

Global Fishing Watch, in partnership with Oceana and other organizations, is committed to working with 20 countries to publicly share their vessel monitoring data via the GFW map by 2022 to advance responsible fisheries management.