Coding for Fish

In 2014, the U.S. Department of State, under Secretary of State John Kerry, hosted the first annual Fishackathon (“fish-hack-a-thon”), a coding competition aimed at tackling issues in sustainable fishing, in five cities across the United States. The competition is organized as a public-private partnership, capitalizing on the expansion of mobile technology use in the developing world in order to address sustainable fishery challenges.

At the second annual Fishackathon last year over World Oceans Day, coders were once again called upon from all around the world to come together to code for the ocean. Their goal was to create new apps for use on mobile devices and other common technologies, all of which could help commercial fishers work smarter, more safely, and more sustainably.

Fishackathon 2015 was hosted in 12 cities worldwide. Volunteer coders worked over the World Oceans Day weekend to develop a total of 40 solutions to problem statements proposed by fisheries experts, and a winning team was chosen for each city. The 12 finalists then had the chance to update and perfect their solutions for the chance to win one of two grand prizes, announced in July.

The /tone/GSMA mFish grand prize for the best mobile app went to Team Fish-o-Tron from London, who created an app that fishers can use to automatically record fish size, maturity, and legality of a catch. The Our Ocean people's choice prize went to Team KnowFish from Atlanta, who created an app that provides species information, laws, and regulations, all specific to the location that is being fished. Both apps are simple, useful ways that fishers can improve their accuracy and sustainability of practice by following location-dependent or size-dependent fishing guidelines. Both were designed with working conditions in mind, working offline and on unstable decks.

Other Fishackathon 2015 solutions included a game to teach children about sustainable fishing, an app to help consumers find and eat sustainable seafood, a reporting tool for marine mammal protection, and more. After the event, coding groups connected with the organizations that submitted the problem they worked on.

Fishackathon 2016 will be held April 22-24 in honor of Earth Day, and the grand prize winners will be announced around World Oceans Day in June! Sign up here to find out more information on hosting, supporting, participating, or submitting a challenge. Over 40 host cities on six continents were recently announced, over tripling the events from last year alone!

--Post written in collaboration with Secretary’s Office of Global Partnerships at the U.S. Department of State

Cora Wiese Moore 24-Feb-2016