Fisheries are the major activity exploiting marine resources and have a significant impact on marine life as well as on the economic development and food security of nations. Nowadays, more and more consumers are demanding sustainable and responsible fish products and the comprehensive monitoring of fishing activity provides new insights into improving the transparency of the fish supply chain. While policies and regulations attempt to control and manage the origins of fish, however, the traceability of the fish supply chain presents many obstacles concerning the data availability.
Deimos and IPMA (Instituto Português do Mar e da Atmosfera), with the support of the Portuguese Directorate-General for Natural Resources, Safety and Maritime Services (DGRM), are developing the pilot application “Monitoring Fishing Activity” for the e-shape project (Horizon 2020, Grant agreement ID: 820852). This is a unique initiative that brings together decades of public investment in Earth Observation (EO) and cloud computing resources to develop services for decision makers, citizens, industry and researchers, always in close collaboration with key users.
The main goal of this pilot is to strengthen the knowledge on the fish supply chain by developing an operational EO service that monitors the dynamics of vessels operating in the Northeast Atlantic waters, focusing on two fleets involved in pelagic fisheries of highly migratory oceanic species: the pole and line and the drifting longline fisheries targeting tuna and swordfish respectively. Using data from the 2012-2018 period recorded within the Portuguese ZEE, the results aim to characterize and quantify the fishing pressure of these fleets on marine ecosystems, and to relate fisheries with environmental parameters. A further objective is to raise awareness among key users of human footprint in marine ecosystems and motivate them towards more efficient, environmentally friendly and sustainable fishing strategies and practices, complying with international, European and national regulations.
Key organizations involved in the fisheries monitoring at different levels have been providing different sets of requirements based on their needs. These organizations range from public institutions as DGRM, the central service of the Portuguese State for the administration and implementation of policies on fisheries and the Regional Directorate for Fisheries for the Azores region (DRPA), academic centres as the Centre of Marine Sciences (CCMAR, one of the foremost marine science research centres in Portugal, and non-governmental organizations as Sciaena, whose mission is to promote the implementation of the sustainability of fisheries.
Fisheries management is continuously frustrated by the lack or poor quality of critical data on fish catches/ sizes, fishing locations, and relevant environmental conditions. While quantitative methods for managing fisheries have developed considerable complexity, the quality and availability of data remains an obstacle to meaningful advances in fisheries management. The integration of information technology will play a major role in fisheries management and end-to-end traceability of the fishing activities. To that end, the application currently being developed integrate the following key datasets:
- Automatic Identification System (AIS) data for fishing vessels. AIS is a surveillance solution that uses transceivers on ships which can be tracked by terrestrial stations across the coastline or with satellite receivers. Information provided by AIS, such as unique vessel identification, position, course, and speed, can be displayed on an electronic chart and/or ingested into an information system.
- eLogBooks.Electronic records of catch and effort registered at the time of the catch operation that need to be reported to National Fisheries Control Authorities. Data transmission to authorities can be at the time of landings or immediately after the fishing operation has been concluded and catches recorded. Logbooks are widely used as a method of collecting statistical information on commercial activities.
- Sales. Often referred to as landing declarations, reporting the weight and value of the vessel sales by year and fishing port.
Based on those key datasets, three different products are provided to users within the Monitoring Fishing Activity pilot:
- Fishing Trips. Trajectories of fishing vessels from the Portuguese pelagic longlining and pole and line fishing fleets based on satellite AIS points datasets. From the analysis of the speed profiles of vessels, additional information is provided for the possible activity status in each AIS emission data point - fishing and non-fishing.
- Fishing Footprint. Geographical distribution of the fishing activity in a period of time. The results are based on the aggregation of the AIS data points that were identified as fishing over a certain grid.
- Fishing sales. Yearly sales in quantity (ton) and percentage rate of target species per port. Sales reports of the anonymized vessels and the weight amounts are aggregated according to the fishing fleet, year, fishing port, and target species.
During the first half of 2022, Deimos and IPMA will add environmental characterization of fishing areas to the service portfolio. The proposed service takes advantage of state of the artf EO-based datasets that provide key parameters such as Chlorophyll concentration, Sea Surface Temperature and others, correlating those with tuna and swordfish catches reported in elogbooks. This shall allow a better understanding of the behaviour of those fishing fleets and how they align with the environmental conditions of fishing grounds.
Moreover, a major purpose for this project is to disseminate the outcomes of these services through a web-based tool following rigorous access criteria for the different users, to be established by IPMA and DGRM. In that regard, Deimos is currently working on integrating the services presented here into the NextGEOSS platform, an integrated ecosystem for users to access EO data and deploy EO-based applications.