Pelagic Data Systems - One of Three Companies to Win National Geographic Competition to Continue Work Protecting Global Fisheries


SAN FRANCISCO, CA (June 8, 2018)—To help celebrate World Oceans Day on June 8th, the National Geographic Society awarded Pelagic Data Systems (PDS) the Marine Protection Prize. From an impressive pool of 156 teams, that included some of the best and brightest proposals for using technology to better police critical ecosystems and economies, PDS was selected as one of three winners to be awarded $150,000, to implement a plan to protect the world’s oceans and sustain its fisheries.

“Overfishing and illegal fishing severely impact the ecosystem and the communities that rely on those environments,” said Jonathan Baillie, the National Geographic Society’s chief scientist and executive vice president, science and exploration. “The innovations from the three winning teams have the potential to greatly increase sustainable fishing in coastal systems. These talented individuals will test and improve their ideas to push their innovations to the next level and help create more sustainable fishing practices in communities throughout the world.”

Overfishing and illegal fishing threaten our oceans, food security and the livelihood of island nations and coastal communities. The purpose of the Marine Protection Prize is to attract a range of solutions that offer low-cost and easy-to-maintain technologies and that are relevant to the needs of local stakeholders.

Melissa Garren and her team at Pelagic Data Systems will work to alleviate all three aspects of illegal unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing in the Kui Buri district (Prachuap Khiri Khan Province), Thailand. They will use solar-powered vessel tracking technology and innovative analytics to support a fisher-driven initiative, in collaboration with local authorities, to implement sustainable fisheries management and combat IUU fishing. Currently operating in 24 countries, PDS is looking forward to expanding their work in Thailand to benefit the communities there.

"The entire team at Pelagic Data Systems is honored to be recognized by the National Geographic Society for our work putting technology in the service of humanity throughout the fisheries sector,” said Garren. “We are thrilled for this opportunity to collaborate with our local partners on a focused project that will further refine and strengthen our solutions in support of successful, sustainable fisheries."

Participating teams explained their technical approach while also describing their understanding and relationships to the communities that would benefit from each intervention. To learn more about the winners and the Marine Protection Prize, visit


Pelagic Data Systems ® (PDS) was founded in 2014 in San Francisco, California to bring a technologists’ approach to the ocean management space. They are setting the global standard for vessel tracking by bringing custom-made hardware, advanced data analytics, and expertise to fisheries world-wide. Its technology platform is designed from the ground-up to bring data insights to every fishing vessel in the world.


The National Geographic Society ® is a leading nonprofit that invests in bold people and transformative ideas in the fields of exploration, scientific research, storytelling and education. Through our grants and programs, we aspire to create a community of change, advancing key insights about our planet and probing some of the most pressing scientific questions of our time while ensuring that the next generation is armed with geographic knowledge and global understanding. Our goal is measurable impact: furthering exploration and educating people around the world to inspire solutions for the greater good. For more information, visit