Through our work with governments and regional authorities across the globe, OceanMind is able to monitor the activities taking place within fisheries to detect instances of suspected illegal fishing.
To do this, we use a variety of data sources including:
- Vessel tracking systems such as AIS or VMS
- Satellite RADAR observations
- Satellite optical and near-infrared imagery
- Vessel registry and fishing license databases
- Vessel blacklists maintained by enforcement authorities
- Specialist fisheries analysis databases
This insight is used to ensure that fishing vessels are licenced to fish where they are located, for the species they are catching. Any activity and behaviour that is identified as suspicious, can then be investigated and followed up by the local authorities.
Case Study: Tuna Fishery Pole & Line Monitoring
Within the tuna industry, coastal pole and line fishing vessels are predominantly used to catch skipjack tuna. The tuna industry is extremely important for a number of countries throughout the world and developments have taken place to provide a high quality, sustainable product. However, this has put significant pressure on tuna producers to operate sustainably and transparently throughout the chain of custody process.
To help enhance the traceability and monitoring of tuna pole and line fisheries, OceanMind conducted compliance risk identification activity over a 3-month period to demonstrate how vessels can be monitored using the standard Vessel Monitoring System (VMS) combined with OceanMind’s technology. This enabled expert fisheries analysts to identify possible compliance issues and provide assurances on the provenance of the tuna product being purchased by key food retailers. It is this continuous monitoring and independent verification of a company’s seafood purchasing that can enhance supply chains and the sustainability of its products.
To date, many fisheries have been monitored through a standalone VMS programme for pole and line vessels. Data is usually captured on fish landings within their own fisheries’ information systems but this data is not often cross referenced or independently validated.
OceanMind’s unique system is different. Bespoke, integrated machine learning algorithms analyse and correlate a wide variety of data sources, including: VMS and Automatic Identification System (AIS) data, fishing vessel license information, fishing regulations including spatial management information, vessel registry databases, and other proprietary and commercially sensitive data to alert its expert fisheries analysts to any potential high-risk activity for further investigation. This in turn provides globally scalable compliance verification of fishing activities on a per-catch level in real time, with any compliance risks already identified before the vessel delivers their catch to port, and more importantly, before this catch enters the supply chain.
OceanMind checks to ensure that vessels are properly registered and licenced to fish in each area of interest and that these are both valid and in date. Furthermore, OceanMind’s expert fisheries analysts review all available information to ensure that vessels have complied with the relevant harvest regulations such as the correct observation of spatial management and stock control. Additional checks to confirm that vessels of interest continuously transmit on the required tracking systems take place and any suspicious gaps in AIS transmissions are identified. In addition to fishing in a country’s national waters, OceanMind checks to see if the vessel has also fished on the high seas, or in the waters of another country and if it has, verifies that it was licenced to do so.
As part of spatial management assessment, OceanMind’s systems also identify indicators of possible engagement with transhipment or bunkering events which are also checked to ensure they are fully compliant and authorised.
OceanMind ascertained that the majority of pole and line vessels identified in this monitoring project were fishing in a relatively compliant way. However, 16% of these had VMS transmission gaps whilst still potentially recording fish landings. Many VMS transmissions were either not being reliably transmitted, stopped altogether or polled too slowly for adequate monitoring to take place. Due to occasional technical constraints within some fisheries, monitoring, control and surveillance programmes were found to have often overlooked the analysis of landings data with tracking data. This resulted in several recommendations being made.
This monitoring period proved to be successful and all specific and detailed compliance recommendations were passed to the appropriate authorities as well as the seafood supply chain owners to act upon the risks identified.
OceanMind provides independent verification of the compliance of fishing activities to help retailers and suppliers demonstrate the provenance of seafood in their supply chain, and to understand and mitigate associated risks. With international retailers coming under increasing pressure to supply sustainable, responsible products free from illegal or unethical practices, OceanMind is working with a number of retailers and suppliers to check and corroborate compliance from net to plate.
“We want to be sure that we have absolute traceability to the point of capture for all the fish we sell. As such, we’ve commissioned independent monitoring services from OceanMind, including analysis of data sets relating to, for example, vessel licensing, fishing methods and quota. By doing this, we will significantly improve our traceability systems and deliver transparency and assurance, as well as doing our bit to protect fisheries and the environment.” Judith Batchelar, Director, Sainsbury’s Brand