Actor and environmental activist Leonardo DiCaprio recently unveiled the Global Fishing Watch: an app that allows citizens of the world to crowd spy on ships sailing in the world's waters, in an attempt to stop illegal fishing activities.

Global Fishing Watch

Just last week at Our Ocean Conference in Washington, D.C., the legendary actor's Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation launched the application which it had funded as part of a joint project between Google, SkyTruth and Oceana. The research was also majorly carried out by researchers at Canada's Dalhousie University.

How does it work?

With the help of a program that enables users to view and track movements of tens of thousands of fishing vessels in the world's waters, common people can now play an important role in instilling some real transparency and accountability into the fishing industry. The main areas where the app is likely to play a key role is to reveal fishing beyond allocated quota, fishing in seasons and areas where fishing is not allowed or fishing endangered marine species.

DiCaprio's Environmentalist side

Having been a long time advocate of environmental conversation, DiCaprio's foundation has contributed at least 6 Million USD to the project in the last three years. While speaking at the conference hosted by US Secretary of State John Kerry, DiCaprio said: "This platform will empower citizens across the globe to become powerful advocates for our oceans."

The Potential ofGlobal Fishing Watch

According to CBCNews, the app allows one to track as many as 35,000 ships simultaneously as they tread the waters in the world's major fishing locations.

Combining satellite data related to fishing that reveals ship locations using Automatic Identification System (AIS) radio signals and the latest algorithms in a cloud computing interface, the application, which is still being tested in beta phase, has sent ripples across conservationist circles.

After crowd-sourcing, the term crowd-spying is being used to describe the phenomenon which is believed to have major implications on the future of the fishing industry as well as the conservation of marine species that have long been falling prey to illegal fishing and facing extinction.