Research areas to support an operational SAR-based ship detection system to combat illegal fishing in the Southern Indian Ocean
Fabrice Planchou(1) , Jean-Yves LE BRAS(1) , and Philippe SCHWAB(1)
8-10 rue Hermes Parc Technologique du Canal ,
The efficient enforcement of fishing quotas and the repression of illegal fishing activities within the French and Australian exclusive economic zones represent a significant challenge to maritime authorities due to the size and remoteness of the area. A solution to this problem has been implemented by CLS through the installation of a SAR receiving station in the Kerguelen Islands to detect vessels, thereby allowing surface vectors to patrol in a much more efficient and timely manner. The targets detected by ENVISAT and RADARSAT SAR processing software are correlated with Argos vessel monitoring data, in order to display the positions of both identified and unidentified vessels within range of the station. This station has been in successful operation for over two years and has demonstrably contributed to the repression of illegal fishing activities.
Two areas of a research have however been identified for a continuously improved operational performance. In the existing system, the final validation of the echoes detected automatically by the station is carried out by operator. In some cases, this information is sufficient and the operator can easily qualify the echo as being or not a ship. In other cases, the decision is difficult to take and other criteria, enabling him to better distinguish the detected object, could be useful for him. In addition to the detection of the ships, the SAR signal could be differently processed in order to generate other products of which most interesting would be wave heights and wind speeds. Other oceanic parameters like wave spectrum or currents would be useful. Generated in a regular way, these products or charts would provide a valuable input to support local marine operations.