The impact of illegal fishing worldwide
Globally, 120 million people depend on fishing for their income. Exports from fisheries are valued at $102 billion, however, more than 30 per cent of global fisheries are overexploited. It is estimated that 26 million tons of fish are caught each year through IUU fishing.
Illegal fishing has the greatest impact on developing countries whose people rely on fish as their primary source of protein and income. IUU can also be linked to a variety of other crimes including labour exploitation, human rights abuses and trafficking illicit goods.
As global population numbers continue to grow, combating illegal fishing through effective marine monitoring and surveillance is critical to ensure future food security for the world.
Low-cost innovative tools
We are helping to address IUU by making better use of existing data and identifying new low-cost information sources. This includes:
- developing surveillance technological solutions to assist fisheries with identification and surveillance
- analytical tools to extract information from existing datasets
- working with national and international collaborative partners to increase capacity building and training.
Satellite-based synthetic aperture radar (SAR) data is the premium method for ship detection at sea, allowing identification of vessels day or night in all conditions. Our expertise can efficiently download and process large volumes of SAR data. This is made available from the EU Sentinel program and our own NovaSAR satellite.
Harvesting navigation radar
We can harvest the navigation radar data from cooperating vessels to provide free maritime surveillance information.
The system can be installed on a wide range of vessels at a low cost. It can also integrate with fisheries monitoring systems to provide managers with free, real-time, and high-resolution surveillance data for their fishing grounds.
Underwater listening devices
Hydrophones are underwater listening devices that record sounds over a designated period of time. They can be used to detect potential illegal fishing vessels and methods, such as bomb fishing. We are combining hydrophones with satellite technology to provide real-time detection of potential IUU activity.
Open source software
Analytical and software tools for monitoring illegal fishing can be cost prohibitive for fisheries management, particularly for developing countries where resources are limited. We offer freely available open source software, including R, Python, and QGIS.
Our strategic methods can estimate the level of illegal fishing quickly and inexpensively, with application for illegal fishing hotspots across the Asia-Pacific region. We can also estimate the lost value to governments and industries in the region.
Vessel Risk Report
The Vessel Risk Report is a web-based reporting tool that identifies and ranks vessels across the globe that are behaving abnormally. This enables users, such as port authorities and fisheries managers, to better detect suspicious activity.
Vessel tracking data
We have developed an analytical system to classify fishing behaviour, including separating fishing, transiting, anchoring and other behaviours of interests.
It can be applied to any type of vessel tracking data, including VMS, AIS, and even low-cost GPS loggers, and is already being used internationally. It generates fishing patterns, locations of potential violations, and estimation of total fishing effort by region. It can also compare data to identify misreporting from vessels.
Visualisation and detection
We can visualise vessel tracking data through our web-based tool, RShippy. The program can query individual vessel tracks, and set alerts for behaviours or vessels of interest. The platform is underpinned by detailed statistical analysis for high-power data manipulation and advanced analytical tools in a freely available software package.
Our research can also assist with identifying a number of common illegal fishing behaviours such as the unauthorized deployment of fish aggregating devices (FADS) and transhipment of catch between vessels, by using the behaviour of ships based on GPS tracking data to infer the chance of illegal activities, even when they can’t be directly observed.
We are working with national and international partners to upskill fisheries management and staff in the detection of IUU fishing activities. We are providing the analytical tools and technological innovations needed to build capacity to help inform decision making around the allocation of surveillance and enforcement resources.