Bomb Fishing detection with Shotspotter technology

published by Amber Platowski

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Where Low Tech meets High Tech
Utilizing ShotSpotter Technology to Detect Blast Fishing
Amber Platowski
Miami University
Technology Profile Report
of the oceans

Blast Fishing Basics
TOP  5
Blast Fishing Facts
We Must Stop Blast Fishing
most fish bombs are low-tech, inexpensive, and made from either dynamite or a fertilizer/gas/matches combination 
blast fishing is tossing a simple "bomb" (typically made in an empty bottle) into the ocean, creating a sonic disturbance dangerous enough to indiscriminately kill everything in its reach
High quantity of fish, but they are low-quality because the flesh gets pulverized 
affects multiple trophic levels and removes refuge space for juvenile species of fish in addition to reducing the value of the reef, since everything gets destroyed in the process
(Ainsworth, Varkey & Pitscher, 2008)
blast fishing is destroying reef systems faster than the coral can recover
(Sabah slo mo - YouTube, n.d.)
Bomb fishing dates back at least a century in Southeast Asia
(Cornish & McKellar, 1998)
blast fishing becomes illegal in Hong Kong
(Cornish & McKellar, 1998)
of bomb fishing
Focusing on Southeast Asia
blast fishing becomes illegal in Indonesia
(Ainsworth, Varckey & Pitcher, 2008)
Blast fishing is widespread in all Southeast Asia countries
(Woodman, 2003)
Tech Solutions
The evolution of acoustic detection
Woodman (2003) published the first paper on the use of hydrophones to detect blast fishing
Woodman outlined how triangulation of hydrophones can effectively confirm blast fishing vs other ocean sounds via recordings
Woodman forms an NGO StopBombFishing.Org with partner organizations and has success with ShotSpotter trials in Sabah, Malaysia as an underwater real-time detection system
ShotSpotter Technology
ShotSpotter is a California-based company used to detect gunshots and locate them in real-time

Acoustic monitoring is able to time-stamp specific sounds and locations (within 10 feet of accuracy)

used in law enforcement in over 90 major cities in the United States!
What is ShotSpotter? 
human assessment
push notifications
ShotSpotter can... 
-triangulate location within 25m        -time-stamps and send push notifications in 30-45 seconds!
-detect blasts up to 25km away
ShotSpotter can detect in real time! So with the help of community members and law enforcement, blast fishers can be caught and eventually deterred.

now what?
They've been detected or deterred... how do blast fishermen find a new way to support their family?
Conservation Applications
ShotSpotter has been used in Semporna, Malaysia to detect bomb fishing with GPS accuracy and precision.

(Lai, 2017)
potential limitations
without evidence of the bomb fishing, it is difficult to convict offenders
dependent on funding, training, and enforcement in order to be an effective detterant
if fishermen are desperate to feed their families and have no other skills/training to change careers, shotspotter may not be enough to curb behavior
(SZtv, n.d.)
(Lai, 2017)
Community-Based Conservation such as reef guardians who get a stipend for their petrol, engine, GPS, etc. to monitor blast fishing with Shotspotter technology, and can report to law enforcement
promoting alternative livelihood programs such as aquaculture according to the Blue Growth Initiative
Raise Awareness of the problem and possible solutions
establish systems for reporting and sharing of information
increase penalties for offenders and teach them sustainable fishing practices
The UN Sustainable Development Goal #14: Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources 
United Nations
Goal Date is 2020
(Langenheim, 2014)
(Blue Growth Initiative | FAO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific | Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations,”n.d.)
(Fish Bombing | Reef Check Malaysia, n.d.)
Ainsworth, C. h., Varkey, D. a., & Pitcher, T. j. (2008). Ecosystem simulations supporting ecosystem-based fisheries management in the Coral Triangle, Indonesia. Ecological Modelling, 214, 361–374.

Artisanal Fishing: Need. (n.d.). Retrieved February 25, 2018, from

Blue Growth Initiative | FAO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific | Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. (n.d.). Retrieved February 25, 2018, from

Chan, J. (2016). Conservation group proposes new tech to eradicate fish bombing in Sabah. The Malay Mail Online.  Retrieved February 25, 2018, from

Cornish, A. S., & McKellar, D. (1998). A history of fishing with explosives and poisons in Hong Kong waters. Naga, the ICLARM Quarterly, 21(3), 4–9.

FAO Fisheries & Aquaculture - The State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture (SOFIA). (n.d.). Retrieved February 26, 2018, from

Fish Bombing | Reef Check Malaysia. (n.d.). Retrieved February 25, 2018, from

Jaiteh, V. F., Loneragan, N. R., & Warren, C. (2017). The end of shark finning? Impacts of declining catches and fin demand on coastal community livelihoods. MARINE POLICY, 82, 224–233.

Kaur, C. R. (2012). Regional Anti-Fish Bombing Symposium, 22-23 February 2012, Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia. In Australian Journal of Maritime & Ocean Affairs (Vol. 4, pp. 53–55). Routledge. Retrieved from

Lai, N. (2017, May 3). US tech to beat fish bombing. Retrieved February 25, 2018, from

Langenheim, J. (2014, July 1). Blast fishing in Borneo: “bombs are quick, but they kill the coral reefs” | Johnny Langenheim. Retrieved February 25, 2018, from

Naughton, J. (1985). Blast fishing in the Pacific. South Pacific Commission Fisheries Newsletter, 33, 16-20.

Oceans - United Nations Sustainable Development. (n.d.). Retrieved February 25, 2018, from

ReefBase :: Global Database : Threats - Reefs At Risk - Southeast Asia, Philippines. (n.d.). Retrieved February 25, 2018, from,32,PHL,10.aspx

Sabah slo mo - YouTube. (n.d.). Retrieved February 26, 2018, from

Sustainable development goals - United Nations. (n.d.). Retrieved February 25, 2018, from

SZtv. (n.d.). Stop Fish Bombing! Finally, there is a way to stop it | Dynamite Fishing. Retrieved from

Technology new. (n.d.). Retrieved February 25, 2018, from

Tougher laws for environment-related offences — Chief Judge. (2015, August 13). Retrieved February 25, 2018, from

Woodman, G. H., Wilson, S. C., Li, V. Y. F., & Renneberg, R. (2004). A direction-sensitive underwater blast detector and its application for managing blast fishing. Marine Pollution Bulletin, 49(11–12), 964–973.

Woodman, G. H., Wilson, S. C., Li, V. Y. F., & Renneberg, R. (2003). Acoustic characteristics of fish bombing: potential to develop an automated blast detector. Marine Pollution Bulletin, 46(1), 99–106.