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Skylight and the IMCS Network

No cost remote sensing surveillance capabilities to combat IUU fishing
Skylight banner screenshot

The IMCS Network promotes and facilitates communication, cooperation, coordination, and capacity development across the global fisheries MCS, compliance and enforcement community to strengthen and enhance MCS and compliance efforts to protect the world’s oceans. One of our guiding principles is to enhance opportunities for sharing technology and technology transfer. 

Satellite remote sensing is one of the most promising technologies to support frequent  wide area surveillance of vessels at sea. It can also produce high resolution imagery to provide additional details of vessels and their behavior. As much as this technology holds promise, the cost and size of the ocean can cause challenges for MCS practitioners to effectively deploy it. Skylight is a product of the Allen Institute for AI (AI2) that offers governments and non-governmental organizations a maritime monitoring and analysis platform designed to provide a near real-time tool to complement fisheries  patrols and operations. The platform applies Artificial Intelligence (AI) to a combination of data sources, including public and commercial satellite data sources, satellite synthetic aperture radar (Sat-SAR), radio frequency geolocation (RF), and high-resolution electro-optical imaging (EO).

Skylight Ops Support Bahamas

Skylight Operational Support in the Bahamas

In addition, the Skylight platform can task high resolution imagery based on specified behavior that is of interest to an MCS practitioner and that may indicate potential IUU activities. This process is called “tip and cue” where the tip is detected behavior (e.g., transshipments or a vessel crossing into a closed area) to cue a satellite to collect high-resolution optical imagery of the detected behavior or vessel (e.g., to capture an image of the vessels alongside or of potential fishing activity). You define the conditions of the tip and Skylight will set up an automated system to monitor for this. When conditions are met, Skylight will automatically request the high-resolution imagery. This is a valuable opportunity that would have benefits for many of our members and we encourage those with an interest to reach out to Skylight or to the Network. So, how can our members access these capabilities? Well, it is easy and these capabilities can be made available by a simple request to Skylight or through the IMCS Network. 

For IUU fishing patrol and operations support, Skylight will need a request at least one week before the data is needed. Skylight will also need some additional details to help develop a collection plan best suited to support your mission and objectives. As part of this plan, the Skylight team will identify the best available data best available data for the dates of your patrol or operation from both public and commercial satellite sources and will provide a delivery plan via the Skylight web-platform.

For tip and cue imaging for compliance and enforcement, Skylight will need to understand the intent or objective of gathering the imagery, shape the conditions with you to set up the tip, and determine the area(s) or area of interest to monitor for the tip. In the example below, Skylight is working with a local Mexican non-profit to tip optical imagery on any dark vessel detection (from satellite radar) within the Vaquita Biosphere Reserve. The main objective is to analyze how well the various boundaries and regulations for protecting the Vaquita are being complied with.

Skylight Vaquita work

Dark Vessel Detection within the Vaquita Biosphere Reserve

The IMCS Network observer organizations are a vital part of the Network and play a key role in strengthening responses to IUU fishing and focusing collective MCS efforts. Skylight joined the Network as an observer organization in 2022. We also work with Skylight through the Joint Analytical Cell (JAC) that was established in 2022 and Skylight was a sponsor of the 7th Global Fisheries Enforcement Training Workshop (GFETW).

AI2 is a non-profit research institute founded in 2014 with the mission of conducting high-impact Artificial Intelligence (AI) research and engineering in service of the common good. Skylight is a tool developed by AI2 used to identify suspicious vessel activity in the maritime domain. Skylight is focused on addressing IUU fishing but can be applied to many types of maritime crimes. Skylight uses Automatic Identification System (AIS) and various satellite data sources that can be accessed via a web-based application or via an Application Programming Interface (API).

Published 13 Sep 2023