Fishackathon 2015: casting a net for high tech solutions

What do the cities of Boston, Massachusetts, Vancouver, Canada, and Durban, South Africa have in common? They are all coastal cities, with much of their economic and tourist activity stemming from their location near the ocean. And they are not alone—more than half of both the U.S. and world populations live within 50 miles of a coast.

These cities have something else in common, too. They are among the ten cities that will host events for the second annual Fishackathon. This year’s Fishackathon is organized by the U.S. Department of State’s Office of Global Partnerships in partnership with Greenwave and with support from /tone, the World Wildlife Foundation, and the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.

Fishackathon is an event that brings together technologists and coders over a weekend to create tools to address challenges in sustainable fishing around the world. Last year, as part of Secretary Kerry’s Our Ocean Conference, volunteers at the pilot Fishackathon held at aquariums in five cities worked to create apps for fishers in developing countries to use to register their boats, report illegal fishing activity, track their catches, and more.

Photo: Fishackathon participants sleeping over at the Monterey Aquarium

This year, the State Department is expanding the scope of Fishackathon and bringing the event to ten cities around the world. In addition to the cities mentioned above, coders and designers can volunteer at events in New York City, Baltimore, Long Beach, Miami, Chattanooga, Atlanta, Toronto, Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur, and Santiago, Chile. This year’s Fishackathon will take place the weekend of June 5-7, leading up to World Oceans Day on June 8.

At each hackathon, teams will choose problem statements to address related to sustainable fishing practices, develop their idea over 48 hours, then present their solutions for the chance to win prizes such as workshops and mentoring or a trip to the second annual Our Ocean conference in Chile this fall.

The issues of ocean health and sustainable fishing may not be new, but we believe that we can bring new ideas and technologies to bear in finding solutions to challenges like overfishing, illegal fishing practices, and damage to the marine ecosystems that so much of the world relies on.

So we are asking you to get involved—help us spread the word, find an event to attend, and help us collaborate to find solutions to these global challenges. Will you help us #codeforfish this June?

Learn more and sign up at, or follow us on Twitter at @fishackathon, @GPatState, and #codeforfish.

-- Guest post by the Secretary’s Office of Global Partnerships, U.S. Department of State

Secretary’s Office of Global Partnerships, U.S. Department of State 14-May-2015