The Ministry of the Environment said, “The analysis of historical data from vessels’ signal devices associated with Automatic Identification System [AIS] along with other important identifiers will be carried out by the Oxford, UK based company Satellite Applications Catapult.
“They will be studying up to three years of data and using other proprietary algorithms along with other important information overlays.
“Most large fishing vessels and their support craft [bunker, factory ships, etc.] are required by regional fishery management organizations [usually the country of vessels’ flag registration] to have AIS fitted on their vessels.
“However, some fishing vessels are known to turn off their AIS tracking systems when close to a country’s EEZ, either because they wish not to be interrupted from taking innocent right of passage throughan EEZ, or because they are fishing illegally.
“It is these movements that Catapult will analyse and report on together with such movements through our EEZ of hazardous cargoes and anything else that could be identified as a danger to our EEZ. This Catapult study adds layers of fishery data to conventional satellite tracking and has become the go-to for governments that want to identify illegal, unreported and unauthorized fishing vessels remotely.
Minister of the Environment Cole Simons said, “Bermuda is small but has a proud 400-year record of conserving its biological resources, both marine and terrestrial.
“Our land area is small but Bermuda is responsible for a vast marine estate that has been protected hitherto by our laws and our relative isolation from the commercial fishing fleets of the world. Now there are signs that we may not be immune to the scourge of the illegal fishing that affects the world’s oceans.
“In a world where some 90 percent of fish stocks are either fully or over-exploited, it is our responsibility to establish to what extent our fish stocks are under threat from outside fishing fleets. It is time to assess the risk we face to our marine resources, and to review the protection of fish stocks. We want to conserve Bermuda’s resources for Bermuda’s own sustainable use.
“Luckily the technology that has put the oceans of the world under even more pressure can also be used to our advantage. It is now possible to analyse satellite tracks in ways that will show fishing patterns, re-fuelling patterns and journeys that mysteriously continue with AIS and other identifiers switched off.
“Catapult will carry out this analysis in November and December of this year and will deliver a full report in the New Year. Once we have identified those months where we have significant risk, we can hopefully switch to the more expensive live tracking and, with the assistance of a local airplane service, have a way of documenting such illegal activity and levy fines in accordance with existing legislation.
“We are indebted to Aurum Fund Management Limited—a Bermuda based investment manager, chaired by Dudley Cottingham, for funding this important study on behalf of the people of Bermuda.”
“We at Aurum have a passion for saving the world’s marine environments and have a long history of supporting environmental conservation projects since our founding in Bermuda in 1994,” said Dudley Cottingham.
“With this valuable assistance, Bermuda will be better informed about what goes on in our waters and this will give us the tools to work out how to protect these waters to the highest standards in the future.”