AWS Public Sector Blog

Fishackathon: Supporting the Sustainability of our Oceans and Fisheries

According to the World Wildlife Fund, approximately three billion people in the world rely on both wild-caught and farmed seafood as their primary source of protein; yet the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization estimates that eighty-five percent of marine fish stocks are either fully exploited or overfished.

To combat this, the annual Fishackathon, first organized by the U.S. Secretary of State’s Office of Global Partnerships in 2014 and organized this year in partnership with HackerNest, took place in over 40 cities around the globe.

This year’s Fishackathon brought together hundreds of developers, students, startups, and subject matter experts to build practical tech solutions to address endemic problems defined by the world’s most respected fisheries experts. The teams competing designed solutions around three specific challenge sets:

  1. Enforcement
  2. Marketplace
  3. Sustainability

AWS mentors and judges were onsite in over a dozen cities to guide as they sought to develop effective, mass-market adoptable solutions. Following the hackathon, winning teams from each city produced three-minute demo videos for their solutions. From those videos, representatives from AWS and other expert stakeholders chose one global winner.

We are pleased to announce that a team of deep learning researchers and web developers from Boston, Massachusetts, won the 2018 Fishackathon Global Prize for their vessel detection device called, PoachStopper. PoachStopper is a low-cost, IoT-powered innovation, which can help law-enforcement track fishing activity in their jurisdiction. PoachStopper is a submerged IUU detection device that leverages machine-learning capabilities to dispatch a floating buoy and notify law enforcement each time it detects illegal activity.

Other winning prototypes at the city level ranged from mobile applications using visual recognition technology that gives fishermen real-time pricing information, crowd-sourcing platforms for citizens to report illegal fishing activity to geo-tag applications that alert fishermen about local laws and regulations once they’ve entered a new jurisdiction.

City winners each received $5K in AWS Promotional Credits to help launch their prototypes, while PoachStopper will receive $25K in AWS Promotional Credits, as well as a coaching session with an AWS expert.

AWS Public Sector Blog Team

AWS Public Sector Blog Team

Headquartered in Arlington, Virginia, the AWS Public Sector blog team writes for the government, education, and nonprofit sector around the globe. Learn more about AWS for the public sector by visiting our website (, or following us on Twitter (@AWS_gov, @AWS_edu, and @AWS_Nonprofits).