CSIRO behind breakthrough technology to help combat illegal fishing trade - ABC Online

Posted June 26, 2017 09:16:26

Australian scientists have developed world-first surveillance technology to combat the global illegal fishing trade.

The CSIRO, in collaboration with Indonesian authorities, have created a notification system that will collect satellite data from the anti-collision devices on most boats.

The system will flag vessels that have a pattern of suspicious behaviour, and send reports to the authorities when those boats pull into port.

One tell-tale sign that a boat may be engaged in illegal behaviour is moving abnormally through shipping lanes.

Lead research scientist at the CSIRO, Chris Wilcox, said that could include moving faster or slower than usual.

"One of the other things we look for is indicators a vessel is trying to avoid surveillance," he said.

"If they turn off their transmitter for instance, or if they change their vessel name while they're at sea, we flag those as suspicious also."

Illegal fishing is the third most lucrative black market in the world - behind gun running and drug trafficking.

"If you want to do something at sea you would use a fishing vessel because they're the cheapest and most seaworthy.

"Half of Australia's barramundi comes from Asia. We import the majority of our seafood, so the level of illegality in them is really very relevant for people in Australia."

Some estimate about a third of the seafood in Australian markets is mislabelled and potentially caught illegally.

The project team is in discussions with the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation to distribute the new system to member countries.

"In our region here in the Pacific and Indian oceans, there's been quite strong interest."

The technology will be launched at the Our Oceans conference in Malta in October.


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