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SPIE Professional October 2011

Satellites can keep seas safe

Sharing satellite data for an improved maritime-surveillance system.
Photonics for a Better World, SPIE logo

The European Space Agency (ESA) is looking into how to better share satellite data for an improved maritime-surveillance system.

While satellite imagery can be used to locate and track vessels, monitor beaches and ports, and detect unlicensed fishing, human trafficking, and illicit oil discharges, no single country can afford to set up a system for maritime surveillance on a global scale.

ESA hosted a workshop earlier this year to begin a discussion on how different countries could exchange and access satellite-based maritime surveillance information.

One approach that could foster international collaboration is to combine satellite-based vessel detection information with identification information that all large vessels are required to transmit.

 Maritime Sensing

"By fusing satellite imagery with standard Automatic Identification System (AIS) information from both terrestrial and space systems, we could get a more detailed picture of what vessels are doing," said Guy Thomas of the United States Coast Guard.

Capt. Leopoldo Manna from the Italian Coast Guard agreed on a shared approach. "The workshop represents the start of a process by which different organizations worldwide engaged in maritime safety and security can agree on how to ensure systematic access to satellite-based surveillance," Manna said.

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DOI: 10.1117/2.4201107.05

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