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Satellite Surveillance For IUU Fishing

by Amit Benet Nag

Presently, the fish stock is not only under a threat from excessive legal fishing but also from illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing which is why Global Fishing Watch (GFW) finds it difficult to estimate the precise level of such fishing activities. GWF enables active users with Internet access to monitor fishing activity at global level, and to view "individual vessel tracks, exclusive economic zones, marine protected areas, and other features." There are no concrete reports of this, as its duty-free and don’t have to pay any tax on these catches people easily paid of or bribed.Today, IUU fishing is a global problem, with vast amounts of fish being caught illegally.


                                            Image showing Trans-shipment © World Ocean Review

 

So combating illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing at sea is a necessity, for which a solution is to find anomalies in the vast ocean traffic and to red flag such activities. However, the main goal is to spot trans-shipments. Trans-shipment occurs when a shipment of illegal catch is transferred to a refrigerated cargo ship (reefer) for mixing the legal and illegal catches and losing the provenance that allows proper governmental tracking of the fish on board.

In 2015, it took more than 3 months of research, behavioral analysis, and satellite vessel tracking to identify just one reefer receiving trans-shipments. And in 2016, a reporter was awarded Public Service Pulitzer Prize for their diligence, helped in their investigation by images from DigitalGlobe satellites. Now, SkyTruth (its partner organization) with DigitalGlobe and Planet with aset of eyes in the sky, might be able to change that.

                             Image showing the locational possibilities of Trans-shipment © Global Fishing Watch

 

The Global Fishing Watch project maps every Automatic Identification System (AIS) signal, making visible all fishing activity anywhere in the ocean, linking it with patterns for suggesting trans-shipment in progress (often triggered when a captain turns off the AIS). GFW system is learning patterns recognition for analysis, which scales and highlights the Potential and Likely Rendezvous in form of dots. A single dot presents a scenario that could represent a rendezvous between smaller fishing boats and AIS-enabled reefers, traveling side-by-side slowly enough to transfer fish or could indicate AIS radio silence in an area known for overfishing or poaching. In either case,a closer watch is required by satellite in near-real-time, fast enough to capture the photographic evidence that can identify illicit activities.

Planet’s fleet of Dove satellites spans the globe imaging the earth every day at high resolution enough to locate and identify; AIS signals are suspiciously absent, spot ships joined at sea, and track fishing behavior.
 

                           Satellite images showing rendezvous for suspicious vessel behavior © Planet & DigitalGlobe

 

To confirm the suspicion an automated tip is sent to DigitalGlobe requesting to task of one of their highest-resolution satellites to sweep for a bird’s-eye view in the requested area to inspect for any actionable evidence like shown in the diagram above for authorities to act on. Using the Satellite technology as leverage of unique vantage point from space and aided by increasing accurate artificial intelligence with tightening work flow from suspicious signal to a real-time proof.

In SATPALDA, we provide high optical resolution satellite images with multiple satellite data products and allied services for such ventures and similar to it.


SATPALDA is a privately owned company and a leading provider of satellite imagery and GeoSpatial services to the user community. Established in 2002, SATPALDA has successfully completed wide range of photogrammetric and Remote Sensing Projects.

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