Wiki-fishing

The Economist: “….Mr Rhoads is a member of a network started by the Alaska Longline Fishermen’s Association (ALFA), which aims to do something about this and to reduce by-catch of sensitive species such as rockfish at the same time. Network fishermen, who numbered only 20 at the project’s start, agreed to share data on where and what they were catching in order to create maps that highlighted areas of high by-catch. Within two years they had reduced accidental rockfish harvest by as much as 20%.

The rockfish mapping project expanded to create detailed maps of the sea floor, pooling data gathered by transducers fixed to the bottoms of boats. By combining thousands of data points as vessels traverse the fishing grounds, these “wikimaps”—created and updated through crowdsourcing—show gravel beds where bottom-dwelling halibut are likely to linger, craggy terrain where rockfish tend to lurk, and outcrops that could snag gear.

Public charts are imprecise, and equipment with the capability to sense this level of detail could cost a fisherman more than $70,000. Skippers join ALFA for as little as $250, invest a couple of thousand dollars in computers and software and enter into an agreement to turn over fishing data and not to share the information outside the network, which now includes 85 fishermen.

Skippers say the project makes them more efficient, better able to find the sort of fish they want and avoid squandering time on lost or tangled gear. It also means fewer hooks in the water and fewer hours at sea to catch the same amount of fish….(More)”