Every year the State Department sponsors a global competition called Fishakathon, with the goal of protecting life in our waters. Last year, my five person team from Boston went on to win globally. I recently gave an interview about the experience to Swede White of Wolfram Research.
This was problem we chose to work on:
Challenge statement: Protecting restricted fishing zones (e.g. marine reserves, remote areas) from illegal fishing is a huge challenge. A passive tool (maybe using sonar?) that helps identify fishing activity in restricted areas would help agencies monitor, track, and enforce laws more effectively.
Key to our solution were recurrent neural networks that I trained to detect the acoustic fingerprints of fishing vessels. The above linked blog post explains how (and more critically why) we designed the PoachStopper device. Our team ended up winning the grand prize, which was 5k of AWS credits!