Home Biology CSIRO develops system to fight illegal fishing

CSIRO develops system to fight illegal fishing

The CSIRO has developed a new system to tackle illegal fishing by using a notification system that alerts authorities when offending vessels arrive in port.

The Web-based reporting tool can identify fishing vessels based on acts associated with illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing.

Illegal fishing is claimed to be the third most lucrative crime, after weapons trafficking and drug smuggling, with 26 million tonnes, worth about US$23 billion, caught each year.

The CSIRO said a third of the fish caught in the US and Australia was estimated to come from illegal sources while 120 million people around the world depended on fishing for their livelihood.

CSIRO senior scientist and co-designer of the platform, Dr Chris Wilcox, said in a statement that the tool used data collected by satellites to monitor and report on vessels.

“Almost all vessels are equipped with anti-collision devices that can be detected by satellites,” Dr Wilcox said.

“Using data from these systems, we can shine a spotlight on vessels acting suspiciously based on factors including the vessel’s history, movement and whether its transmitter has been intentionally disabled.

“Countries will be able to sign-up to receive notifications, or directly access the portal to search for vessels and then be provided with a report which highlights the suspicious behaviours involved.”

Twenty-nine countries recently agreed on a treaty to eradicate illegal fishing in a move co-ordinated by the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation.

“As well as costing tens of billions of dollars each year, IUU fishing leads to overfishing and depletion of stocks which has the greatest impact on developing countries whose people rely on fish as their primary source of protein and income,” Dr Wilcox said.

“As global population numbers continue to grow, combatting (illegal) fishing is becoming even more important to ensure future food security for the world.”

The programme will launch in October.

Photo: courtesy CSIRO.

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A professional journalist with decades of experience, Sam for nine years used DOS and then Windows, which led him to start experimenting with GNU/Linux in 1998. Since then he has written widely about the use of both free and open source software, and the people behind the code. His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.