Illegal and unreported fishing is a multibillion-dollar business around the globe, and one that has proven notoriously difficult to combat. In part, that’s because it involves a constant stream of renegade fishermen being pursued by countries that have only limited resources to carry out a perpetual cat-and-mouse game on the high seas. But a new satellite-based surveillance system powered by Google, which will be publicly unveiled Thursday at a global oceans conference at the State Department, aims to help alter that equation.

Global Fishing Watch, as it is called, is designed to act as an eye in the sky, constantly scouring the globe in search of those illegally plundering the oceans. The organizations that partnered to develop it, which include the marine-advocacy group Oceana and West Virginia-based nonprofit SkyTruth, say the free platform will help governments, journalists and everyday citizens monitor roughly 35,000 commercial fishing vessels nearly in real time. READ MORE