Project Eyes on the Seas The smart monitoring system in project “Eyes on the Seas” tackles illegal fishing


Project Eyes on the Project Eyes on the Seas is being run from a “watchroom” at the UK Satellite Applications Catapult

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.

Fundamental to the system’s operation are the safety and management transponders that are routinely fitted to many vessels detailing their whereabouts to overflying satellites. Project Eyes is pulling in satellite radar data as well .It is hoped that by targeting these key “trans-shipment” vessels, which conduct the mid-ocean exchanges of illegal catch, that many of the smaller “dark” boats can be disrupted as well. Chile and the Pacific island republic of Palau will be among the first to use the system to help protect their fishing interests.Palau is setting up a marine reserve, and with its economic waters extending over an area the size of France, it knows it faces an immense challenge in keeping tabs on a fleet of problematic boats from Asia. The same is  true also of more developed nations, who could access the information to decide when best to send up drones or spotter planes to investigate suspicious trawling.

More information

BBC News Article: Satellite Watchroom Targets Illegal Fishing