LOMBOK, Indonesia — What do satellite communications have to do with fishing? And how could the use of technology help move the needle on a major threat to secure livelihoods for fishermen — illegal, unregulated, and unreported fishing?
Billions of people around the world rely on healthy oceans for food and income. But IUU fishing practices are an increasing threat as they risk destabilizing a fragile ecosystem through the use of destructive fishing equipment — some of which is banned — fishing in protected areas, and government quotas being ignored.
In Indonesia, the world’s second biggest producer of fish, this is a cause of great concern for coastal communities: Around 6 million people in the archipelago rely on fishing for their livelihoods.
What is the International Partnership Programme?
The UK Space Agency’s International Partnership Programme — part of the UK Government’s Global Challenges Research Fund, supporting the U.K.’s Official Development Assistance commitment — is a 152 million pound ($199 million) multi-year program launched in 2015. It uses U.K. organizations' space knowledge, expertise and capability to provide a sustainable, economic or societal benefit to undeveloped nations and developing economies.
A new project aims to help solve the problem. Through a partnership between Inmarsat, a commercial satellite operator, Indonesia’s Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries — otherwise known as the KKP — and environmental consultancy PT Hatfield, through the UK Space Agency as part of its International Partnership Programme, 200 vessels are now installed with POINTREK, an enhanced vessel monitoring system, which uses satellite-enabled technology to track fishing vessels to support sustainable Indonesian fisheries. It’s the first phase of the project, which will see a further 100 larger vessels installed with Inmarsat’s FLEET ONE voice and data satellite system that provides additional communications capabilities for fishing companies, onboard crew, and their families.
As well as aiming to help prevent IUU fishing, improved connectivity between vessels helps enhance safety at sea, strengthens the capability to respond to emergencies and tragic accidents, and provides connectivity for the crew to communicate with coordinators and their families on dry land.
Devex visited the project site in Indonesia for an in-depth look at the potential impacts. Watch the video above to hear from the people at the heart of the project, and follow #Sats4SDGs for more from the Satellites for Sustainability series.
Read more about the impact of satellites in development work on our Satellites for Sustainability site.