KAILUA, HI and WASHINGTON (October 13, 2022) – Ai.Fish, a software startup developing artiﬁcial intelligence (AI) tools for marine conservation and ocean science, and the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) Oceans Technology Solutions team, are pleased to present results from their collaboration to move AI technologies toward widespread deployment for automated ﬁsheries monitoring.
The SmartPass initiative, pioneered by EDF in 2019, aims to develop computer vision and machine learning technologies to provide near real-time reporting of ﬁshing activity in small-scale ﬁsheries by automatically counting active ﬁshing vessels. Small-scale ﬁsheries make up 50% of the world’s ﬁshing activity but monitoring is much more diﬃcult than large-scale commercial ﬁsheries.
A key limitation to deploying many modern AI technologies is the reliance upon high-performance computers to perform computation-heavy algorithmic processing. In recent years, “Edge AI ” has emerged as an alternative paradigm, which is able to function independently from a central server or cloud. This oﬀers the promise of performing AI processing on-site using specialized low-power hardware while often yielding results in near real-time.
Beginning in September 2021, Ai.Fish and EDF partnered to bring SmartPass to the edge, with the goal of deploying vessel counting algorithms onto low-power embedded computers the size of a human hand. Ai.Fish and EDF worked together to annotate data, train AI models, test and validate Edge devices from multiple vendors, develop eﬃcient AI models that can perform real-time video processing, and bench test results on real-world data. This process wasn’t always straightforward, requiring creative solutions to accommodate hardware and algorithm constraints. The end result is a ﬁsheries monitoring system that can provide accurate, automated, and real-time data on the number of ﬁshing vessels in a particular region, without requiring expensive hardware or high-bandwidth network access.
As of August, 2022, the Edge-enabled SmartPass system developed by Ai.Fish has demonstrated feasibility of all key components, including an accurate vessel counter with a false alarms rate of well below one per hour, object tracking software that is real-time friendly on resource-constrained edge computers, and a process for rapidly re-training vessel detection models to respond to performance deﬁciencies. The software has been deployed on a modest edge device at acceptable frame rates of approximately 10 frames per second on reduced-capability hardware and more than 30 frames per second on target hardware.
The results from this initial project have been deemed a successful minimum viable product (MVP), and are currently being expanded upon to enable large-scale deployment. Ai.Fish and EDF will continue to work together to scale the system in 2022 and 2023. Next steps include a ﬁeld deployment and live testing of algorithms, and development of near real-time reporting capabilities given low-bandwidth wireless connectivity. This will be an important step in validating the technology and ultimately scaling the SmartPass system to global deployment.
“We are thrilled to be working with Ai.Fish on this project,” said Christopher Cusack, EDF Oceans Technology Solutions Director. “Their cutting-edge technology has the potential to revolutionize ﬁsheries monitoring globally by providing good data that can be linked to good management, helping to improve the climate resilience of ﬁsheries and the communities that depend on them.
“This partnership is a perfect example of the tangible beneﬁts that AI technologies can have in ﬁsheries and on environmental projects more broadly,” said Ai.Fish CEO and Co-founder, Jimmy Freese. “We are excited to be working with EDF on this important project and to continue to expand our oﬀerings in related areas.”
Ai.Fish is a software startup developing Artiﬁcial Intelligence (AI) tools for marine conservation and ocean science. With deep expertise in AI, machine learning, computer vision, and Edge computing, Ai.Fish is actively looking for partnerships that expand the use of AI in sustainability-related projects.
The Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) is a leading international nonproﬁt organization that creates transformative solutions to the most serious environmental problems. EDF uses science, economics, law and markets to ﬁnd practical and lasting ways to stop pollution and build a healthier environment. For more information, visit www.edf.org.
Jimmy Freese, CEO and Co-founder info@ai.ﬁsh www.ai.ﬁsh
Christoper Cusack, Ph.D., Director, Oceans Technology Solutions www.edf.org