URI Partners with DEM to Generate New Fishing Status Maps Using AIS

Dr. Tom Sproul (Department of Environmental & Natural Resource Economics) and Julia Livermore (RI Department of Environmental Management) are partnering on a new study— “Fishing Status of Vessels Using the AIS: A Big Data and Machine Learning Approach”.

The goal of this undertaking is to generate improved maps of fishing effort and landing values at sea. A technical study is needed because established methods are known to contain substantial inaccuracies and newer approaches have not been applied to species of interest in Southern New England’s offshore wind lease areas. The project will form a baseline that can be used to limit conflicts between wind development and commercial fishing and to assess changes in fishing practices after wind farm development.

The team will merge data from the AIS (Automatic Identification System), VMS (Vessel Monitoring System), VTRs (Vessel Trip Reports), dealer reports, United States Coast Guard registry records, and the NOAA Observer Program. They will also employ a novel approach of using fishing industry input for expert labeling of the AIS
data. The team will then develop a machine learning approach to modeling the probability of fishing based on vessel activity at the Fishery Management Plan (FMP) level. The project has support and will include involvement from the Massachusetts Fishermen’s Partnership, the Commercial Fisheries Research Foundation, the Responsible Offshore Development Alliance, and the Commercial Fisheries Center of Rhode Island.

Key outputs will be:
i) Fishing activity maps, to be available on the Northeast Ocean Data Portal,
ii) Publicly available, open-source computer code for replication by other scientists,
iii) Measurement of improvements of landings estimates relative to existing approaches, and
iv) Submission of our findings for publication in peer-reviewed scientific journals.

The study is being funded by Massachusetts Clean Energy Center, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, RI DEM and can be read about in more detail here.

Press Coverage

URI researcher to map commercial fishing activity to help reduce conflict between fishing, wind industries — The Narragansett Times

URI Researcher to Map Commercial Fishing Activity to Reduce Conflict Between Industry and Energy Projects — ecoRI News

Map aims to reduce fishing, offshore wind conflicts — Providence Business News