Small-scale fishermen in developing countries face growing challenges. Their catches are declining because of overfishing and, in some cases, the degradation of the marine environment. They spend more money on fuel and more time out on the ocean to catch enough to make ends meet. And they can’t keep up with competition from larger vessels that in some cases are fishing illegally. With 50% of the fish caught for human consumption coming from small-scale and artisanal fisheries, the livelihoods of these fishermen are crucial for their communities. To address these fishery management challenges, we need to find innovative ways to collect data and use it to find solutions.
Launched in 2014 around Secretary Kerry’s Our Ocean conference, Fishackathon was established to bring together volunteer coders to create tools to address challenges in sustainable fishing around the world. The pilot Fishackathon brought together coders in 5 cities around the United States, and the second annual Fishackathon in 2015 expanded to 12 cities worldwide, including hackathons in Asia, Europe, and Latin America. Held during Earth Day weekend, April 22-24, 2016’s third annual Fishackathon grew to 40 cities across six continents. Volunteer coders, technologists, and designers developed usable solutions to problem statements solicited from fisheries experts around the world. At the end of the hackathons, teams presented their work and an expert panel of judges nominated a winner from each site, making them eligible for a worldwide grand prize.