Overfishing off western Africa is causing a humanitarian and ecological crisis. Current rates of fishing are driving several species towards extinction whilst jeopardising the livelihoods of artisanal fishing communities. Illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing is at the heart of the problem and a recent report by the Overseas Development Institute estimates that reducing illegal fishing by foreign commercial vessels and enhancing local fleets could generate over 3 billion USD and 300,000 jobs for the west African region.
Currently the illegal fishing trade operates virtually unchecked with only limited monitoring and intervention capabilities available in the region. However, advances in satellite tracking technology now means that it is possible to track vessels using radar imagery although these techniques need to be customised to local conditions and local capability needs to be generated to exploit the satellite based information.
The InSUre project aims to develop robust methodologies in the Gulf of Guinea countries to detect and track vessels engaged in illegal fishing and dumping activities, monitor pollution from these vessels and to develop indicators to monitor local issues under the UN Sustainable Development Goal – Life Under Water. It will use state of the art analysis and fusion capabilities to detect and classify the vessels, and customise the satellite algorithms to support near real-time surveillance.
InSUre will provide the scientific background and monitoring capabilities for greater transparency and sustainable management of fisheries to help avoid the irreversible depletion and possible extinction of species, thus enhancing food and economic security for the local people.
Funder: European Space Agency
Project start date: September 2016
Project end date: November 2017
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Dr Andrey Kurekin
Coastal Ocean Colour scientist