Worcester Polytechnic Institute Teams up with U.S. State Department for Fishackathon on Earth Day 2016

International event asks coders and science enthusiasts to help solve problems facing sustainable fishing; WPI is the only site in New England
April 20, 2016

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Could a mobile app help save the world's oceans?

Started in 2014 by the U.S. State Department, Fishackathon is a two-day problem-solving marathon that seeks to create cutting-edge solutions to challenges facing the world’s fishing industry. The annual event has coding and fishery experts—including developers, designers, and project managers—form teams at 43 sites around the world to innovate new applications for mobile devices to help fishers work smarter and more safely while helping protect the world's oceans.

This year’s Earth Day weekend event will ask teams to devise a solution for one of nine problems related to fish identification and tracking, monitoring systems for lost fishing gear, fishing vessel data, and compliance with marine laws and regulations. Fishery experts from around the world have identified these as top industry and environmental concerns.

WPI will host participants from throughout Massachusetts, and is the only hackathon site in New England this year.

"I am thrilled that my hometown New England region is once again host to the U.S. Department of State’s annual Fishackathon, and I'm looking forward to the event," said State Department Special Representative Andrew O'Brien. "WPI has demonstrated a strong commitment to using and teaching technology, and we are eager to see what solutions its students and community members develop over the weekend to address complex issues in sustainable fishing."

"WPI is excited to represent New England as a host site," said Karen Oates, dean of arts and sciences at WPI. "Although Worcester is not a coastal city, ocean sustainability is an important issue that our students and faculty address in a number of research settings. The Fishackathon perfectly complements one of our key goals at WPI: creating a space for students to engage with issues at the intersection of science, technology, and society, especially in the context of global challenges."

The Fishackathon will culminate with teams presenting their solutions to an expert panel of judges, which will award local winners and nominate one team for the worldwide grand prizes, including a $10,000 cash prize sponsored by Virgin Group. A global winner will be announced by the State Department at a later date.


Approximately 30 participants, U.S. State Department representatives, and WPI faculty and staff


Friday, April 22, 5:30 p.m. – midnight

Saturday, April 23, 8:30 a.m. – midnight

Sunday, April 24, 8:30 a.m. – 1:15 p.m.


Friday, 6:30 p.m. – Opening Ceremony, including remarks from U.S. State Department representative

Sunday, 12:00-1:00 p.m. – Judges will review submissions and announce a local winner


Fuller Laboratories

Worcester Polytechnic Institute

100 Institute Road, Worcester, MA

About the Fishackathon

Launched in 2014 by the Secretary's Office of Global Partnerships in conjunction with Secretary of State John Kerry’s Our Ocean conference, Fishackathon is a public-private partnership that aims to capitalize on the expansion of mobile phone and Internet use across the developing world to address sustainable fishery challenges. The first Fishackathon was held in five cities around the United States; the next year, the event expanded to 12 cities worldwide and now includes more than 40 in the US, Asia, Europe, and Latin America.