In 2016 the UK Government pledged £20m to establish the Blue Belt Programme to protect vital marine habitats around the UK’s 14 Overseas Territories (UKOTs), with over 4 million square kilometres of British waters to be protected by 2020.

Addressing illegal, unregulated and unreported (IUU) fishing activities is a key part of the programme and to identify illegal maritime activities, feasibility studies and trials of surveillance and analysis using satellite earth observation data were required to build affordable capabilities and low-cost/no-cost satellite data to provide effective IUU surveillance.

CGI and the Marine Management Organisation delivered a low-cost, on-going proof of concept (PoC) service through automation of data processing, visualisation of data, flexibility, efficient technical design and sensitivity. The solution was implemented on a cloud platform with consideration of minimising operational costs and integrated two of CGI’s existing, proven technology solutions, Rapid Vessel Detection (RVD) and Cartosys360, which addressed many of the requirements. The RVD software developed by CGI was adapted to the specific problem of detecting vessels that may be engaged in IUU fishing.

The service delivered provided low-cost/no-cost satellite data to identify IUU fishing and the PoC is capable of being scaled to provide an operational service meeting specific demands of working in overseas territories and CGI looks forward to continue working on next steps to turn this service into a fully produced system.