Thursday, 22 January 2015

Satellite watchroom targets illegal fishing

22 January 2015 Last updated at 09:59

By Jonathan AmosScience correspondent, BBC News

Technologists have introduced a novel system they hope can help tackle illegal fishing.

It meshes satellite and other data to monitor the activities of vessels, automatically triggering alarms when suspicious activity is observed.

The project is a joint venture between the Pew Charitable Trusts and the UK Satellite Applications Catapult.

It is thought as many as one in five fish are landed outside of national or international regulations.

The value of this trade could exceed more than $20bn (£13bn; 17bn euros) a year, according to some estimates.

Much of this theft is perpetrated by industrial-scale pirate operations that think the vast expanse of the oceans can hide their behaviour.

The new system, known as Project Eyes on the Seas, will be operated initially from a "watchroom" at the Catapult's Harwell, Oxfordshire, HQ.

The smart monitoring system does not merely track vessels at sea; it analyses their movements. And by looking at additional inputs like sea conditions and probable fish locations, it can make predictions about what vessels are doing.

Algorithms built into Project Eyes will provide alerts to the watchroom.

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