BIG DATA & MARINE CONSERVATION

 

Management of our global ocean faces increased challenges due to anthropogenic climate change and natural ocean variability; however, rapid technological development is providing a way for us to study and potentially manage our oceans in near real-time. I am interested in understanding how big data and technological innovation can improve marine conservation and spatial management, particularly for highly migratory marine species. In this regard, my research asks two major questions:

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(1) How can big data and satellite technology improve the efficacy of marine protected areas?

With growing interest in and efforts to protect more ocean space in no-take marine reserves, how can we ensure that large protected areas are more than just paper-parks? I use vessel tracking information available through a partnership with Global Fishing Watch to identify opportunities for and challenges with bolstering marine spatial protection with satellite technology. For example, using a case study with a staggering level of illegal fishing within a shark sanctuary, we suggest ways in which new and emerging satellite technologies offer new hope for marine conservation successes globally.

(2) How can innovative data systems improve fisheries outcomes?

Fishery-dependent data is integral to sustainable fisheries management, and the landscape of technology available to record these data is rapidly evolving. What might the future of fishery-dependent data look like? How can we get there? I am interested in better understand how near real-time data technology can be used to improve fisheries data systems to increase data coverage, accuracy, and resolution, while reducing costs and allowing adaptive, responsive near real-time management decision-making to improve fisheries outcomes for multiple users.