Chattanooga, Tenn. (June 1, 2015) – Coders, developers and designers will gather at the Tennessee Aquarium June 5th & 6th for Fishackathon. The event may have a funny name, but the mission touches everyone. Our oceans make life on land possible by producing most of the oxygen we breathe and supplying the greatest percentage of the world’s protein in our diets.
More than 3.5 billion people depend on the ocean for their primary source of food and, according to some estimates, this number will double to 7 billion people in the next two decades. Unfortunately, 80% of the world’s fish stocks are already over-exploited.
As the demand for seafood continues to grow, more and more of the seafood we eat comes from aquaculture. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization, nearly 67 million tons of fish were produced via aquaculture in 2012. Inland aquaculture operations, relying on freshwater, accounted for the majority of that fish production. But even aquaculture production can be disrupted by climate change, storm surges and flooding.
So now, more than ever, is the time for action.
Leading up to World Ocean’s Day, (June 8th) the U.S. Department of State’s Office of Global Partnerships is coordinating the second annual Fishackathon. Last year, more than 150 coders in five U.S. cities tackled fishery problem statements created by World Bank in Africa and USAID in the Philippines. The success of this event prompted a larger, international call to action.
This year, the Tennessee Aquarium will be one of 12 sites from around the world where computer experts will gather in an effort to develop new tools that will support sustainable fisheries – mainly the smaller-scale operations that produce half of the fish caught for human consumption.
The goal is to create new applications and tools for use on mobile phones, devices and other end solutions which can help seafood producers work smarter and more safely in sustainable fishing and aquaculture. Problem statements, submitted by host sites and non-governmental agencies, may lead to exciting projects developed during Fishackathon that will create networks to improve the monitoring of illegal, unreported, unregulated fishing, build capacity for better fisheries management and address other sustainability related issues. “This event also highlights the diverse skill sets and teamwork that’s needed when addressing conservation issues,” said Dr. Anna George, director of the Tennessee Aquarium Conservation Institute. “We employ a full-time GIS analyst and rely on IT experts and graphic designers to help create solutions for freshwater conservation issues. Many of the challenges facing sustainable fisheries will also be solved by similar teams of coders and developers led by fishery scientists. Successful conservation action requires interdisciplinary teams, and tech-savvy students can contribute to this work beyond the traditional fields of biology and environmental science.”
Chattanooga is poised to make a significant contribution to this year’s Fishackathon. Recent hackathons have demonstrated the cooperative spirit of the city’s growing tech community. Coders at the Tennessee Aquarium will be able to utilize the power of Gigabit connectivity and interact with subject matter experts from around the world.
Educating inland residents about making wise choices has been the core of the Aquarium’s Serve & Protect sustainable seafood initiative. The program emphasizes buying seafood caught or raised in the United States. By doing so, consumers are supporting jobs in a well-managed fishery that regulates quotas to protect fish populations from steep declines. Fishackathon adds an exciting new dimension to the Aquarium’s program by bringing some of Chattanooga’s brightest minds together as part of the world’s largest hackathon supporting sustainable fisheries.
Anyone interested in joining the ultimate sleepover in the Aquarium while coding for a cause can register online: http://fishackathontn.splashthat.com
The public is invited to attend a reception on Saturday, June 6th at 6:30pm in the Aquarium’s River Journey building. At 8:00pm, everyone will learn about the projects the coders develop. Please RSVP online: http://www.tnaqua.org/events-programs
This event is sponsored locally in part by EPB Fiber Optics, Lamp Post Group and Open Chattanooga.
Fast facts about Fishackathon, oceans and sustainable fishing:
- Global consumption of seafood has doubled since the 1970s. Today, roughly 158 million tons of seafood is harvested every year.
- The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that of the 17 major fisheries areas in the world, four are depleted and the other 13 are either fished to capacity or overfished.
- Half of the fish caught for human consumption comes from small-scale and artisanal fisheries.
- Less than one half a percent of marine habitats are protected – compared to 11.5% of global land area.
- Fishackathon will occur in 12 cities around the world: Toronto, Vancouver, Santiago, Jakarta, London, Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Chattanooga, Long Beach, Miami and New York.