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Using Tech to Save the Oceans

WWF, Hewlett Packard Enterprise & TRAFFIC band together to fight illegal fishing

With the launch of a new web tool, World Wildlife Fund (WWF), TRAFFIC and Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) are teaming up to fight one of the greatest threats to our oceans: illegal fishing.

DETECT-IT, a new data analytics tool created by the organizations, is intended to help businesses, NGOs and customs, law enforcement and fisheries officials quickly search through fish trade data to identify potential illegally caught and traded fish products around the world. The tool identifies discrepancies in reported trade, in both farmed and wild-caught products, between countries and raises red flags that laundering or illegal trade may be occurring.

“Illegal fishing is hugely destructive to ocean ecosystems, communities and economies,” said Michele Kuruc, WWF’s vice president of ocean policy. “DETECT-IT is a new weapon in the global fight against the criminals pillaging our seas for their own personal gain.”

"Following TRAFFIC's initial idea and proof of concept, the collaboration with WWF and HPE has led to the development of a powerful new tool to speed up the detection of trade data discrepancies that potentially mask illegal trade activity," said Markus Burgener, a Senior Programme Officer with TRAFFIC.

Previously, trade data had to be evaluated manually and the process to search for discrepancies was slow and laborious. DETECT-IT significantly speeds up that process, allowing millions of trade records to be searched in mere seconds.

“DETECT-IT demonstrates the unique potential of technology to solve some of the world’s most complex environmental challenges,” said Christopher Wellise, Chief Sustainability Officer at HPE. “We’re proud to partner with WWF to accelerate a digital solution that will protect our oceans and the livelihoods of millions of people around the world.”

Global estimates suggest that more than 30 percent of all fish caught globally is illegal and causes up to $36.4 billion in global losses each year. Illegal fishing contributes to ecosystem destruction, overfishing, threatens food security and has been linked to human rights violations.

“We’re starting with illegal fish, but that’s not where we plan to stop,” said Kuruc. “As DETECT-IT is tested and refined, this technology can be used to crack down on other highly-trafficked natural resources, including timber and wildlife.”

DETECT-IT was developed by HPE as part of the Living Progress Challenge with support from coders at Topcoder and DXC Technology.