Catapult developing Satellite-Enabled Maritime Domain Awareness for Chile



As part of the UK Space Agency’s International Partnership Programme (IPP), the Satellite Applications Catapult is undertaking a project entitled ‘Satellite-Enabled Maritime Domain Awareness for Chile’ (SEMDAC) to address Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing in the country.

The SEMDAC project will aim to demonstrate the value of using satellite data and advanced algorithms in detecting IUU fishing. It will evaluate the cost-effectiveness of the techniques and estimate the socio-economic impact of implementing a sustainable service. The effectiveness will be demonstrated by working alongside the Chilean Navy as they undertake an anti-IUU operation in their extensive Marine Economic Zone.

IUU fishing costs the global economy around $23.5 billion annually.

Stuart Martin, CEO of the Satellite Applications Catapult, said: “For the past three years, we’ve been working with partners around the world to address the challenges of IUU fishing, which is destroying the livelihoods of many legitimate fishermen and carries huge costs in terms of revenue loss for governments. IUU fishing is also known to be a cover for other illegal activities such as human trafficking and drug smuggling.

“Chile is the tenth largest fishing nation in the world, contributing 1.5% of the world’s global catch. It therefore recognises the need to stop IUU fishing, with any substantial increase in detection and prosecution making a significant contribution to the Chilean economy.”

Rear Admiral Mario Montejo, Director of Maritime Safety, Security and Operations in the Chilean Navy, explained: “A ship’s Automatic Identification System (AIS) broadcasts a signal to coastal stations and satellites which enables us to establish its location. However, there are ships that, perhaps because they are illegal, do not have their equipment turned on and can pass unnoticed in the sea. The SEMDAC operational test and evaluation prototype should help us detect these vessels and will be incorporated alongside other existing systems, into a major research and development project, in order to determine the best solution for our country.”

IUU fishing directly contravenes the UN sustainable goals on ocean development. It undermines the accuracy of fisheries’ stock assessments and therefore affects efforts to responsibly manage marine fisheries, damaging their productivity and in sometimes precipitating their collapse. Ultimately, such activities threaten the stability of coastal communities that rely on the legal fishing trade. The tools and techniques being developed and demonstrated through SEMDAC will assist in tackling all these issues.

The UK Space Agency’s IPP is a five-year, £152 million programme, which uses the UK space sector’s research and innovation strengths to deliver a sustainable, economic or societal benefit to undeveloped nations and developing economies. For further information on IPP, please visit https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/uk-space-agency.

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