Brampton, Ontario – MDA, a pioneering force in space-based technology and services, has announced a groundbreaking contract with the Canadian Government. The two-year agreement, which includes provisions for three optional extensions, partners MDA with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans to tackle illegal, unregulated, and unreported fishing (IUU) in the biodiversity-rich Indo-Pacific region.
Leveraging their highly-touted RADARSAT-2 Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR), MDA’s Maritime Insights Platform combines a plethora of satellite data sources. It will trace and identify IUU fishing activities, including the often elusive dark vessel detection. The ability to survey vast distances in a single image—regardless of time or weather—grants this platform an essential place in the global struggle against IUU fishing.
Illegal fishing has been identified as the planet’s sixth-largest crime by the United Nations. Worldwide, estimates suggest that IUU fishing accounts for about 20% of all the fish caught globally, costing the global economy an astounding $23.5 billion annually. Much of this activity is concentrated in the Indo-Pacific region, which harbors the majority of the world’s coral reefs and boasts a vast diversity of fish species.
Space-Based Surveillance: A New Vantage Point
“The enormity of our ocean surfaces makes them incredibly difficult to monitor, emboldening those who perpetrate crime on the water,” stated Mike Greenley, CEO of MDA. “However, space-based Earth observation provides a valuable vantage point, revealing what’s often hidden from terrestrial or maritime viewpoints. We’re proud to support the Canadian Government and other nations with MDA’s data and insights to combat this environmental scourge.”
MDA’s commitment to combating IUU fishing is not new. They have been providing near real-time monitoring, data, and insights about fishing activities to nations worldwide via the Canadian Government. In partnership with DFO and international fisheries agencies, MDA has been offering actionable maritime intelligence data that aids in dark vessel detection and supports maritime enforcement initiatives.
A Crucial Impact on Ecosystems and Economies
“Detecting, tracking, and intercepting vessels engaged in IUU fishing is pivotal in safeguarding global ocean ecosystems and the livelihoods of lawful fish harvesters worldwide,” noted Joyce Murray, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard. She emphasized the crucial role of such measures in preserving biodiversity throughout the Indo-Pacific region from the threats posed by IUU fishing.
MDA’s past and ongoing initiatives embody a hopeful stride towards mitigating the environmental and economic impacts of IUU fishing. As satellite technology becomes increasingly sophisticated, it promises to offer even more robust solutions in the global fight against illegal fishing.