Australia's Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) is developing a notification system that alerts authorities when vessels suspected of illegal, unregulated and unreported (IUU) fishing arrive in port.
The web-based reporting tool identifies and ranks vessels across the globe based on a list of behaviours associated with IUU fishing. CSIRO senior scientist and co-designer of the platform, Dr Chris Wilcox, said the tool used data collected by satellites to monitor and report suspiciously behaving vessels.
"Almost all vessels are equipped with anti-collision devices that can be detected by satellites," Dr Wilcox said.
"Using data from these systems, we can shine a spotlight on vessels acting suspiciously based on factors including the vessel's history, movement and whether its transmitter has been intentionally disabled.
"Countries will be able to sign-up to receive notifications, or directly access the portal to search for vessels and then be provided with a report which highlights the suspicious behaviours involved."
The announcement follows the execution of the first international treaty aimed at eradicating IUU fishing, coordinated by the United National Food and Agriculture Organisation and agreed to by 29 countries.
The CSIRO team led by Dr Wilcox has also been working closely with the Indonesian government to address the problem. The project is part of a collaboration with Microsoft co-founder Paul G Allen and his US-based company, Vulcan.
"This valuable tool will enable enforcement agencies to identify and locate suspicious vessels all over the world," said Dr Mark Powell, illegal fishing program officer for Vulcan.
"Countries that use this new tool will now be able to reverse the tide of illegal fishing and help rebuild depleted fish stocks."
The platform will be officially launched in October.
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