Surveillance and enforcement of remote maritime areas. Paper 1: surveillance technical options

Last modified: 
December 13, 2019 - 9:43pm
Type: Report
Year of publication: 2010
Authors: Sandra Brooke, Tse Lim, Jeff Ardron
Publishing institution: Marine Conservation Biology Institute
City: USA
Document number: Version 1.2
Pages: 39 pp.

Some of the most pristine marine ecosystems remaining on earth are in remote areas far from human population centers, both within national jurisdiction or beyond, on the high seas* . Unfortunately even these areas are under pressure from the effects of human activities. Recognizing this, many countries have begun to manage activities in remote maritime areas as well as seeking to conserve areas of high ecological value through the establishment of marine protected areas. In recent years some very large offshore protected areas have been established within national EEZs and in addition some are now also being established on the high seas, through the efforts of several international organizations. Without effective enforcement however, these remote managed areas will remain no more than paper management plans and paper parks.

Surveillance and enforcement is more challenging in large, remote areas than for near-shore MPAs as they are often far from populated land, and therefore difficult to reach with traditional manned patrols, radar or other short-range monitoring tools. Advanced technologies have been used successfully for surveillance of large areas, and there is great potential for expansion; however an associated response by law enforcement personnel is still essential to confirm and prosecute violations. Combining surveillance technologies into a single enforcement package has considerable cost-saving potential and is emphasized throughout this report. Additionally, the obvious and targeted presence of law enforcement reduces attempted infractions since there is a perceived significant risk of being caught. 

This document reviews and evaluates a range of existing technological options for the surveillance of remote marine managed areas. Some of these technologies are currently in use by fisheries management agencies; some are currently the purview of groups like the military or security agencies; and others have hitherto been unexplored for such purposes. As commercial fishing (regulated or otherwise) is the single greatest pressure to most remote marine ecosystems, followed by vessel-based pollution, we pay particular attention to technologies for the monitoring of such activities. The paper initially discusses surveillance technologies for cooperative vessels; that is, those that are participating in a managed activity where monitoring systems are obligatory. The majority of the paper however describes the range of sensors and platforms that can be applied to the more challenging task of monitoring non-cooperative vessels. 

Surveillance technologies alone are insufficient to ensure compliance, but they are a necessary component. This first paper in the series does not look at questions of integrating surveillance technologies into an enforcement regime; neither does it consider issues improving compliance. These are clearly key issues, and we anticipate giving these issues the space they deserve in subsequent publications.

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