Fishing for Sustainable Code

Posted by Thomas Debass
June 10, 2014
Fisherman Catches a Flounder in the Waters Near Rio de Janeiro

Just as fisherers must adapt their strategies to the changing weather, so too must those who seek to help fisherers adapt their strategies to combat the ever-evolving challenges which threaten sustainable fisheries management, and thus global food security.

Small-scale fisheries, which catch 50 percent of the fish meant for human consumption, face mounting problems.  Overfishing, illegal fishing, fuel costs, lack of resources, and the degradation of the marine environment threaten the livelihoods of those working in small-scale fisheries, livelihoods which are paramount to the welfare of their communities.

To address this global challenge and to support Secretary Kerry’s "Our Ocean" Conference, the Secretary’s Office of Global Partnerships (S/GP) is coordinating a series of Fishackathons during the weekend of June 13, which aims to create innovative solutions for the sustainable management of fisheries and the protection of our oceans.

A hackathon is a brief and intense collaboration during which software coders and other technology experts create applied solutions to persistent problems.  The Fishackathon will unite volunteer coders to address specific problem statements created by fisheries experts, resulting in technology prototypes that will be deployed on multiple platforms.

Secretary Kerry’s "Our Ocean" Conference on June 16-17 will seek global progress for a global issue.  The ocean, which covers nearly three quarters of our planet and generates 50 percent of the oxygen we breathe, provides a major source of protein for over three billion people. The extent of the ocean’s impact on our lives necessitates collective and scalable action.

Coders and fisherers may seem like unlikely partners, but technology-driven solutions provide the reach and agility necessary to respond to fisheries’ challenges now and in the future.  Through the Fishackathons, we are looking to create new advocates for small-scalable and sustainable fisheries and to create new tools to transform their work towards more sustainable practices.

Our hosts for the Fishackathons include the University of Massachusetts with the New England Aquarium in Boston, the Monterey Bay Aquarium, the National Aquarium in Baltimore, GreenWave in New York City, and Venture Hive in Miami.  Not only do these Fishackathon partners have a stake in the well-being of our oceans, but they are also tech hubs with the resources to support successful hackathons.  By connecting aquariums, universities, and technology communities in this venture, we also hope to create a network of concerned citizens and institutions that can continue to collaborate to address a variety of issues long after the conference.

So, will you join us to code for cod (and other fish)?  For more information or to sign up, click here.

About the Author: Thomas Debass, Deputy Special Representative for Global PartnershipsFollow the Secretary’s Global Partnerships Office on Twitter @Fishackathon and @GPIAtStateFollow Deputy Special Representative Thomas Debass on Twitter @debass.

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