Sea of possibilities: Old and new uses of remote sensing data for the enforcement of the Ascension Island marine protected area
Very large marine protected areas are in danger of becoming 'paper parks'. This paper uses an interdisciplinary team to investigate the use of remote sensing technologies to provide sufficient evidence for effective fisheries management. It uses the intended marine protected area around Ascension Island as a case study. Satellite technology provides opportunities to detect the presence of fishing vessels but because of difficulties with data interpretation, it is unlikely to be a sole source of evidence for prosecutions. Developing drone technology and traditional over-flights by aerial surveillance may supplement satellite technology with 'eyewitness’ evidence. Well-crafted regulations will be able to make some use of this data, but the evidential requirements of criminal courts make prosecutions difficult to pursue. There is some scope to expand management opportunities through vesting the fishery in a public body and pursuing offenders through civil law, this approach having a different suite of remedies. Other opportunities lie in giving very large marine protected areas legal personality which has similar advantages and additional reputational benefits. Using remote sensing data in the civil court poses evidential problems. An alternative approach is to collate data around frequent infringers and, by negatively impacting on their reputation, restrict their ability to obtain insurance, finance, access to fisheries and market access. This is exemplified in port state measures by fisheries authorities and chain of custody requirements by labelling bodies. Data sharing raises challenges with intellectual propertyand coordination. The paper demonstrates that there are opportunities to make VLMPAs work more effectively.