Feeds

Satellite radar tracking sees off toothfish pirates

Actual pirates, in boats, with earrings

SANS - Survey on application security programs

The endangered Patagonian toothfish is getting a helping hand from Envisat, one of Europe's research satellites. According to the European Space Agency (ESA), a radar monitoring scheme using data from Envisat and Radarsat-1 has reduced the illegal fishing in one region by around 90 per cent.

Envisat is a polar-orbiting Earth observation satellite, launched to gather data on the atmosphere, ocean, land, and ice. Now, it is also being use to keep track of fishing vessels in the vicinity of the endangered fish, helping to keep it safe from pirate vessels.

The Patagonian toothfish, also known as Chilean seabass, was discovered 25 years ago by Antarctic researchers. Since then it has been fished almost to extinction. This is partly because it is such a long-lived fish, and takes around 10 years to mature sexually, so any over fishing has a huge impact on the population.

Restrictions have been placed on how much can be fished, but according to the BBC, some 100,000 tonnes are still taken from the sea illegally every year. ESA puts this figure at around 26,000.

Legal quotas total around 10,500 tonnes annually. But with the fish fetching as much as $1,000 each (according to the NYT), the motive for piracy is quite clear.

The project is part of France's attempt to limit illegal fishing in its territories off the coast of Réunion Island. Patagonian toothfish earns Réunion Island between €40m and €60m each year, an income the region can ill-afford to lose to piracy.

France maintains an economic exclusion zone around Réunion Island, in which only French ships are allowed to fish, but the area is too large to be effectively policed from the sea.

Legal boats should all carry an Argos satellite transmitter, which allows them to identify themselves, and also shows their location. Envisat tracks all vessel activity in the area and this data is cross referenced with the Argos data to rule out legitimate vessels.

Any other vessels in the area can be investigated further by French marine patrols. Indeed, shortly after the system went live in 2004, French authorities intercepted a vessel, the Apache, carrying 60 tonnes of illegally fished Patagonian toothfish.

Philippe Schwab, technical director of CLS, a subsidiary of the French space agency CNES, said that the system seemed to be working well as a deterrent. He commented: "Today, illegal fishing [in this region] has almost disappeared. It seems that the unscrupulous fishermen have understood the efficiency of the system."

It is not clear whether there has been an overall reduction in piracy or whether the illegal fishing has merely moved to a less watched region. ®

Top three mobile application threats

More from The Register

next story
Red-faced LOHAN team 'fesses up in blown SPEARS fuse fiasco
Standing in the corner, big pointy 'D' hats
KILLER SPONGES menacing California coastline
Surfers are safe, crustaceans less so
LOHAN's Punch and Judy show relaunches Thursday
Weather looking good for second pop at test flights
Discovery time for 200m WONDER MATERIALS shaved from 4 MILLENNIA... to 4 years
Alloy, Alloy: Boffins in speed-classification breakthrough
Curiosity finds not-very-Australian-shaped rock on Mars
File under 'messianic pastries' and move on, people
Elon Musk's LEAKY THRUSTER gas stalls Space Station supply run
Helium seeps from Falcon 9 first stage, delays new legs for NASA robonaut
Top Secret US payload launched into space successfully
Clandestine NRO spacecraft sets off on its unknown mission
New FEMTO-MOON sighted BIRTHING from Saturn's RING
Icy 'Peggy' looks to be leaving the outer rings
Melting permafrost switches to nasty, high-gear methane release
Result? 'Way more carbon being released into the atmosphere as methane'
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a defence for mobile apps
In this whitepaper learn the various considerations for defending mobile applications; from the mobile application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies needed to properly assess mobile applications risk.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.