Most of the seafood Americans eat is imported. As much as a third of that is caught illegally or without proper documentation, new research estimates.

Since 2010, the Center for Ocean Solutions has supported pioneering student research on novel technologies to combat so-called pirate fishing. The Center is a collaboration among Stanford University (through the Stanford Woods Institute and the Hopkins Marine Station), the Monterey Bay Aquarium and the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute.

“It’s faster, cheaper and has the potential for producing really compelling evidence,” said Center Executive Director and Stanford Woods Institute Senior Lecturer Meg Caldwell.

Recently, Stanford researchers joined experts from law enforcement, government (including the president of Iceland), technology and nonprofit organizations for Ocean Agenda, a conference sponsored by Google Oceans and focused on “boosting protection of ocean life using new surveillance technologies.” Among the speakers: Caldwell (watch video), Stanford biology Professor and Stanford Woods Institute Senior Fellow, by courtesy, Barbara Block (watch video) and Center Visiting Fellow Beth Kertulla.

During a related reception held on the second floor terrace of the Jerry Yang & Akiko Yamazaki Environment & Energy Building, conference attendees watched a demonstration of an unmanned aerial vehicle that could someday be launched from an unmanned boat to monitor illegal fishing.

Trent Lukaczyk, an Aeronautics and Astronautics graduate student, piloted the custom-assembled quadcopter. Lukaczyk was representing the Stanford Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Enthusiasts Engineers and Entrepreneurs Club. He launched and landed the quadcopter on an unmanned Wave Adaptive Modular Vessel designed and provided for the event by Marine Advanced Research and SUAVE mentor Philip McGillivary of the U.S. Coast Guard.

 

Read about other recent Stanford Woods Institute-related work to combat illegal fishing and bycatch:

Thwarting Ocean Poachers? There's an App for That

Trash to Treasure: A Seafood Story

Unintended Consequences: A Global Map of Fisheries Bycatch