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Canada’s Space Robotics Leader, MDA, will use Satellites to Counter Illegal Fishing

Canada's Space Robotics Leader, MDA, will use Satellites to Counter Illegal Fishing
MDA to Deliver SAR Information for Maritime Surveillance - Via Satellite -

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Illegal fishing represents up to 26 million tonnes of fish caught annually, valued at between $10 to $23 billion USD

The company that the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) gave MDA a contract to develop and construct the Canadarm3 as part of Canada’s contribution to the NASA-led Lunar Gateway Program has been tapped to help solve this.

MDA announced that it has been awarded a contract with the Government of Canada Department of Fisheries and Oceans and Defence Research and Development Canada and will use the satellite technology to detect vessels engaging in illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing.

The Dark Vessel Detection (DVD) program uses satellite technology to locate and track vessels that have switched off their location transmitting devices in an attempt to evade monitoring, control and surveillance.

The DVD program will combine data from multiple satellite missions, including MDA’s RADARSAT-2, combined with space-based radio frequency collection and geo-spectrum analysis to assist in locating vessels involved in illegal fishing. MDA’s advanced analytics, multi-sensor data fusion platform and expertise in maritime domain awareness will support the international community to combat the challenges facing our oceans and environment.

The DVD program will provide satellite data and analysis to the Government of Canada in support of Ecuador – including surveillance around the Galapagos Islands.  This program will also support the Forum Fisheries Agency, which represents 15 Pacific Island member states in the South Pacific.

“MDA looks forward to working with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans to deliver this important project that will help Canada contribute to international efforts aimed at combatting illegal fishing. Successful delivery of this project will also position MDA to provide ocean based information as a service to other customers wishing to better and more efficiently monitor and protect their waters and sustain the ocean economy.”

– Mike Greenley, Chief Executive Officer, MDA

In a related initiative, last August, a team comprised of MDA, VizworX and Simon Fraser University was selected by the Digital Technology Supercluster for the Cycle 3 Protecting Our Oceans project in the Supercluster’s Technology Leadership Program. The team aims to develop a solution that will recognize vessels that fish illegally, deter and blacklist them and ultimately prosecute the owners to protect our global fisheries and marine ecosystems. Technology developed through this program may further enhance MDA’s maritime platform offering to better enable their customers to protect the environment, food supply chains, jobs provided by the ocean, and help deliver information to increase border security and tackle human rights violations. 

MDA is a storied Canadian Space success, recently returning home after being bought by an investor group that includes prominent business leaders John Risley of Clearwater Fine Foods and Jim Balsillie of Blackberry.


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