© Daniel Versteeg / WWF

© Daniel Versteeg / WWF


Published 15 November 2017

Using technology to save the oceans: new tool to detect illegal fishing

Cambridge, UK, 15th November 2017—TRAFFIC, WWF and Hewlett Packard Enterprise have teamed up to develop a new web-based tool to address one of the greatest threats to the world’s oceans: illegal fishing.

DETECT-IT, a data analytics tool, will help businesses, non-governmental organizations, Customs officers, law enforcement and fisheries officials to search quickly through fish trade data to identify potential illegally caught and traded fish products around the world.

The tool helps find discrepancies in reported trade data in both farmed and wild-caught products between countries and raises red flags where laundering or illegal trade may be occurring.

Following's TRAFFIC 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”

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.

“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.”

“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% of all fish is illegally caught and causes up to USD36.4 billion in worldwide 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.

The tool can be accessed at and is best viewed in google chrome.