Technology for Fisheries Monitoring and Surveillance / by Francisco Blaha

Monitoring and surveillance of fisheries is a complex and challenging problem. Traditionally, ships and aircraft have been the mainstay of surveillance efforts, however, the use of satellites and other technologies by fisheries enforcement officials has increased in recent years.


As more technologies are utilized to improve global fisheries monitoring and surveillance methods, it is important to note that no single technology can track and expose all illegal fishing activity. Fisheries monitoring and surveillance systems therefore often require a suite of available technologies.

This graphic identifies several technologies that have emerged to assist authorities worldwide to improve information exchange and enforcement. These technologies fall into two groups:

  • Monitoring technologies collect information on fishing activities to verify that they are legal.
  • Surveillance technologies identify vessels and observe fishing activities through sightings by inspection vessels, aircraft and other technical means.

Data gathered by monitoring technology are captured for recordkeeping and analysis by experts. Those data can be used with inspection and other surveillance data to prosecute fisheries crimes in national and international courts. The data can also provide the basis for risk-analysis reports and are crucial to developing inspection and surveillance strategies.

No technology on its own is a complete solution to the problem. Each must be part of an overall system that includes trained personnel, infrastructure, and the backing of a strong legal regime.

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