Fishackathon: It's a Wrap! | South Carolina Aquarium

Fishackathon: It’s a Wrap!

May 26

Fishackathon: It’s a Wrap!

By Shelley Dearhart, Good Catch Manager

The South Carolina Aquarium recently participated in its very first Fishackathon ever. Prior to this event, I had no idea what a hackathon was – I’m not too familiar with the world of computer programs and software development! I had no idea what incredible ideas can come from a competition like this, especially when uniquely combined with conservation initiatives.

The US Department of State created Fishackathon three years ago. Fishackathon is an opportunity for computer programmers and coders to come together and create applications to help combat global fishing issues. The 2016 event was the biggest to date, with 44 cities around the world joining forces to participate.

The Aquarium hosted two teams of coders for 48 hours. Additionally, a number of local fishery experts visited throughout the weekend – five more joined our judges’ panel on Sunday afternoon to determine the winning application from a local perspective. The competition doesn’t stop here, however. All groups from around the world had the opportunity to upload their concept to a global database. The US Department of State now has the opportunity to judge each application, and the winning group will receive a prize of $10,000, set to be awarded in June.

Our two teams of Charleston coders created the app concepts, eGile and Potluck. eGile is a marine debris app that serves as a report system but acts like a game. You find marine debris, take a photo, dispose of it (if possible) and earn points. You can also earn badges after so many points are collected. The reporting system aspect reports the location of marine debris that cannot be removed by an individual so that officials can find it and remove it professionally.

Potluck is also centered around marine debris but specifically targets lost lobster pot gear in the Northeast. You document where you lost your gear in hopes of finding it. Also, as the app is developed, there is the potential to track trends and currents to give fisherman a better idea of where their pot might be.

One of the most amazing parts of this event was not only the app concepts that were created but the level of support we received from our Good Catch restaurant partners! Fleet Landing, Oyster House on Market, Tristan Events and Indigenius Cuisine donated an incredible amount of food for all of our volunteers and participants throughout the weekend. Our restaurant partners went beyond the seafood on their menus and showed support for sustainable fisheries on an entirely new level – such an appreciated gesture!

What an incredible experience Fishackathon was. These coders, not knowing much about the challenges our oceans are facing and being fueled by our restaurant partners, created new technology that has the capacity to make positive change and lessen the impact of human actions on our environment. I can only hope we have the opportunity to participate in this outstanding event again next year. Events like Fishackathon bring people together from around the world with various backgrounds and raise awareness of the importance of protecting our oceans and fishing industries.

Please continue to support our Good Catch partner when you make decisions about where to eat throughout the state. A complete list can be found at These businesses represent industries that have integrity and awareness of their potential impact on the environment.

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