Seven AZA-Accredited Aquariums Hosting Global Event This Weekend

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Coders gather to tackle sustainable seafood challenges with others around the world.

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Coders, developers and designers will gather at events supported by seven Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA)-accredited aquariums June 5, 6 and 7 for the second annual Fishackathon. Leading up to World Ocean’s Day on June 8, the U.S. Department of State’s Office of Global Partnerships is coordinating the second annual Fishackathon.

In 2014, more than 150 coders in five U.S. cities created applications focused on tackling a variety of problem statements related to sustainable fisheries 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 weekend-long coding marathons are expanding to 12 global sites, including seven events supported by AZA-accredited members: the Georgia Aquarium, Aquarium of the Pacific, National Aquarium, New York Aquarium, Tennessee Aquarium, the John G. Shedd Aquarium and Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Centre.

“The event may have a funny name, but the mission touches everyone,” said Jim Maddy, President and CEO, AZA. “The Fishackthon events combine the best marine science minds with the best technology minds, all coming together at events hosted or sponsored by AZA-accredited facilities. It is a great partnership with the U.S. State Department and one that I hope will continue and expand into the future.”

As the demand for seafood continues to grow, the seafood we eat increasingly 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.

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. So now, more than ever, is the time for action.

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 the 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.

Educating the public about making wise seafood choices is just one role AZA-accredited aquariums and zoos serve in communities from coast to coast. The recently launched AZA SAFE: Saving Animals From Extinction initiative will also seek to educate the AZA-accredited aquarium and zoo going public – 180 million visitors annually – on why species such as the vaquita, African penguins, sea turtles and sharks are important to ocean health.

Fast facts about the 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.
  • The Fishackathon will occur in 12 cities around the world: Toronto, Vancouver, Santiago, Jakarta, London, Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Chattanooga, Long Beach, Miami and New York.

You can learn more about the Fishackathon at: http://fishackathon.co/.

About AZA
Founded in 1924, the Association of Zoos and Aquariums is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the advancement of zoos and aquariums in the areas of conservation, animal welfare, education, science, and recreation. AZA is the accrediting body for the top zoos and aquariums in the United States and seven other countries. Look for the AZA accreditation logo whenever you visit a zoo or aquarium as your assurance that you are supporting a facility dedicated to providing excellent care for animals, a great experience for you, and a better future for all living things. The AZA is a leader in saving species and your link to helping animals all over the world. To learn more, visit http://www.aza.org.

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