In the Gulf of Guinea (GoG) the main losses in fish stocks are linked to illegal fishing activity that has increased in recent years. Considerable effort of local authorities has been focused on counteracting Illegal, Unlicensed and Unreported (IUU) Fisheries. However, many vessels fishing in the region are still not equipped with the Automatic Identification System (AIS) and try to avoid identification. The capabilities of monitoring tools and techniques, applied by local authorities, are limited and a majority of IUU activity remains undetected.
Effective fishing management requires efficient monitoring tools for IUU activity, based on remote sensing techniques. In all-weather conditions, day and night, Earth observation (EO) sensors can provide information about location, heading and dimensions of fishing vessels over a wide area in GoG.
In the InSUre pilot study project we propose the development of a service for monitoring fishing vessels in near real time (NRT) using EO data. The service will benefit from using both active microwave synthetic aperture radar (SAR) and optical remote sensing data provided by Sentinel-1 and Sentinel-2 sensors. By cross-checking the remote sensing observations with AIS data, the non-cooperative fishing vessels will be revealed and reported via the Web Portal interface, developed in the project.
By developing an efficient and inexpensive service the InSUre project will fill the information and technological gap that exists in the monitoring of fishing vessels in the GoG. Through the developed service the project will advance fisheries management in the GoG states and will improve conditions for the local fishing industry.
Main image above: Assessment of number of Sentinel-1 detected vessels in the Ghanaian coastal region that can be matched to a co-located AIS signal (blue) and have no associated AIS signal (red).
Overseas Development Institute. 2016. Western Africa's missing fish. The impacts of illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing and under-reporting catches by foreign fleets. London, UK, 44pp.
This project has been completed
InSUre is funded by the European Space Agency (ESA) Alcantara Initiative. The project is led by Plymouth Marine Laboratory, UK in cooperation with the ECOWAS Coastal and Marine Resources Management Centre, supported by the Monitoring for Environment and Security in Africa (MESA) project.