22 Apr Land-Lubber Inspired by the Oceans Coordinates Fishackathon London

By Peter Kohler, Co-coordinator of the London Fishackathon 2015 and 2016.

My background: It has been an epic and eye-opening experience coordinating the 2015 and now 2016 London Fishackathons.  Especially for me, considering I was born 4,500ft up in Kathmandu Valley surrounded by Himalayan massifs in a land locked country and being a geographer – literally ‘land studier’ – by trade, I confess I did feel like an imposter in this world of oceans.

Where my inspiration came from: Despite being a land lubber amongst oceanographers there has always been something that has drawn me to oceans.  Back in 2008, I finally decided to confront this and travel to the South Pacific where I sailed for 4 months, in those 4 months I found a paradise on earth. It was one of greatest gifts each morning to jump into the blue waters with my snorkel and explore these pristine and unspoilt gardens rich in diverse fish and other creatures of the sea in stunning coral oases.

London 2

Something tweaked deep inside, it awoke an urge in me do something to protect and preserve these wonders under the waves for my children to see – for all children to see!  By what could I do?


That urge had been growing ever since and I was searching for something to satisfy it since, whilst working my land-lubbing day job as a Geographic Information Lead in Westminster City Council.   Until 2015, where almost by pure chance I was introduced to the Fishackathon, a global event where the worlds of technology and environmental sustainability are fused under a series of challenge statements to coders/hackers/scientists/techies etc. that confront the greatest challenges to our oceans and the biodiversity and food sources they hold.

Witnessing the Fishackathon 2015, my first: It was truly a eureka moment to witness the London 2015 Fishackathon unfold, to be part of a global challenge for the betterment of the people and the environment.  I witnessed first-hand the sheer dynamism of technology being fused with the environment and watched as potentially powerful solutions emerged.  London was lucky enough to go on to win the global fishackathon competition with Fish-o-Tron, a truly amazing app that was built in a matter of hours – something I did not was possible until then!

Fishackathon 2016: This year, the Fishackathon both in London and across the globe has grown enormously.  Going from 11 cities in 2015 to over 40 on the 22nd April – including on in the landlocked country of Zambia in Africa! London will grow from 15 coders to 50 thanks to The Economist in offering its offices.  London is also aiming to live stream our key note speakers on Friday and judging on Sunday, with lightning speakers on Saturday to provide coders with extra insights to the world of sustainable fishing.

Has it satiated that desire to do something?

For me, far from satiating this desire, if anything it has intensified it as I’ve seen that there is yet hope and time with events like Fishackathon for me to preserve the ocean’s legacy for future generations!  This, I believe, is what is at the core of the Fishackathon!


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