Independent analysis by consultancy Poseidon Aquatic Resource Management Limited, showed that implementing modern, satellite-based technology to smaller boats below 30 gross tonnage (30GT), not currently legally required, supported the local industry’s move towards safer, more sustainable and profitable operations.

It also has the ability to enhance the capability of Indonesia’s Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries (MMAF) to address illegal fishing.

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With funding from the UK Space Agency and support from Inmarsat, this International Partnership Programme project was applied to test the benefits and challenges of expanding the use of satellite-based Vessel Monitoring Systems (VMS). The tested satellite VMS system was further expanded with several applications and is referred to as VMS+.

The target of the project was twofold. First, to test whether the Inmarsat VMS+ could improve the safety of fishers at sea and improve the efficiency of their fishing operations, and thus improve their livelihoods. Secondly, to provide the Indonesia’s Directorate General of Marine and Fisheries Resources Surveillance with spatial tracking data for these smaller vessels and open the potential for e-reporting, such as via e-logbooks.

Poseidon’s independent analysis concluded that both objectives have been achieved, with further opportunities for improvement also being discovered.

In fact, fishers were able to call for help during times of distress, with Poseidon estimating that 39 lives were saved during this project. It also implemented improved capabilities in both the fisheries monitoring centre as well as on its patrol vessel.

James Cemmell, Vice President, Government Engagement, Inmarsat, commented:

The results of the project highlight how technology, training and respect for the expertise of fishers can together deliver enhanced safety, economic growth and environmental sustainability

He added that the partners have prototyped a ‘Made-in-Indonesia’ satellite communications device for fishers, ensuring that pricing reflects the economics of the sector, which then contributes to affordability.

The International Partnership Programme (IPP) is a £30 million a year programme run by the UK Space Agency. IPP gives a strong emphasis on using the UK space sector’s research and innovation strengths to implement a sustainable economic or societal benefit to emerging and developing economies around the world.