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The ocean affects your life every day, regardless of where you live. It provides us with food, energy, transport, tourism and a myriad of other benefits. But many human activities on the ocean take place far from shore and are hard to monitor, which means they’re hard to regulate.

In a newly published study, researchers used satellite images, GPS data and artificial intelligence to produce the most comprehensive maps of marine activities available. They showed some surprising things: For example, 75% of fishing vessels they detected were missing from public monitoring systems.

These new images “radically changed our knowledge about the scale, scope and location of fishing activity,” writes University of Wisconsin-Madison environmental economist Jennifer Raynor. The data will be made freely available and updated periodically, providing a valuable new resource for managing and protecting the oceans.

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Jennifer Weeks

Senior Environment + Cities Editor

Many commercial fishing boats do not report their positions at sea or are not required to do so. Alex Walker via Getty Images

We used AI and satellite imagery to map ocean activities that take place out of sight, including fishing, shipping and energy development

Jennifer Raynor, University of Wisconsin-Madison

A new study reveals that 75% of the world’s industrial fishing vessels are hidden from public view.

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