I want to resurrect this thread, because I just found the relevant photo from last July
I would submit that while the Passagemaker
writer has a point, his basic rant that AIS is a safety device, not a fishing tool is mis-guided.
My experience: While crossing the Gulf of Alaska, 45 miles offshore at twilight, we observed the following AIS targets depicted in the screenshot below. After my initial confusion, it became clear that they were indicating the location of halibut longlines set by a guy who was idling a few miles away.
First time I had seen such a thing, but as soon as I realized what they were, I was impressed by the utility of the thing and very glad that I wasn't likely to steam over one of his bouys in the dark. Traditionally, these things are marked at night by little D-cell flashlights which would be very easy to miss in any kind of a sea.
I vote for more of this, not less.