Illegal fishing is a rampant global problem that steals food, income, and biodiversity from coastal communities that can least afford it. Unfortunately, illegal fishing vessels are hard to track, making it difficult to take action to end illegal fishing. Mazu lets anyone with a smartphone report vessels that might be fishing illegally or have histories of illegal fishing.
The app, named after the Chinese sea goddess and patroness of fishermen, allows you to be part of the solution. Whether the boat is at the top of a watchlist, is fishing where you know it doesn’t belong, or is just behaving suspiciously, you can submit a sighting.
Examples of activity that you can photograph and report sightings for:
• Foreign fishing activity in coastal waters
• Fishing vessels within Marine Protected Areas
• Vessels harvesting prohibited or protected species
• Vessels with obscured or missing identification marks (name,
• Transhipment (moving fish from one vessel to another)
• Refrigerated cargo vessels (reefers)
• Vessels that may be using fish aggregating devices (FADs)
What information to capture in your photos?
• Vessel name
• Home port
• Its radio call sign number
• National registration number
• IMO (International Maritime Organization) number
Try to capture clear images from multiple angles. Previous hull markings, non-Roman characters, fishing gear, fenders, company logos, and distinctive structural features can all be important for identifying vessels.
Information collected will be shared with relevant national fisheries enforcement agencies. When a vessel can be positively identified and its illegal fishing activities confirmed, authorities can take action, including reporting the vessel to the country where it’s registered (flag state), blocking its access to port, blacklisting it in international fishing agreements, or detaining the vessel and fining its owners.
• Browse a watchlist of black-listed vessels, study their images, and learn about their histories.
• Option for anonymous submission (no account or sign-up required)
• Take photos from within the app or upload photos already on your phone
• View the watchlist and submit sighting reports when connected to the internet via wifi or a cellular connection (future releases to support offline use)
Mazu is brought to you by the McCauley Laboratory and the Benioff Ocean Initiative at the University of California Santa Barbara, in partnership with MU/DAI Design, and with advising from INTERPOL Project Scale and The Pew Charitable Trusts Ending Illegal Fishing Project.