Illegal fishing costs Indonesia billions of dollars every year. The government has been blowing up the boats it catches, and has now announced that it will release data to get citizen support. This initiative – run in partnership with Global Fishing Watch – is our open dataset of the week.

Global Fishing Watch uses data from ships’ communications systems to visualise their location and movement on a map. The tool analyses these movement patterns to classify them as fishing or non-fishing activity.

The Indonesian government also has its own system to track the location and movement of its fishing vessels (called Vessel Monitoring System), and will share this data through the Global Fishing Watch website. The data will first be available on request, and eventually publicly.

“Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) Fishing is a global crime. To put an end to it, we have to use all the tools we have to ensure that all fishing efforts in our waters are seen and recorded,” said Susi Pudjiastuti, Indonesian Minister for Marine Affairs and Fisheries.

Indonesia has one of the largest fishing vessel monitoring systems in the world, and opening up this data would be invaluable to civil servants and NGOs.

Officials will be able to centrally monitor illegal fishing, using artificial intelligence to study patterns in the data and predict rises in fishing. They could also use it to test whether new policies will be effective in cutting illegal fishing.

NGOs could use the data to support their work in rural Indonesia, where fishing is an important livelihood for many. They could work with fishermen to verify illegal activities spotted on Global Fishing Watch.

The Global Fishing Watch tool is in prototype now, and will publicly launch in 2016. Here is a snapshot of Indonesia’s fishing vessel data from 2014, visualised on Global Fishing Watch: