ISU - Summer 2024

Satellite technology saves lives in Indonesia

Left to right: Erwis Sinisuka Director, Inmarsat Batam, Inmarsat Vice President Government Engagement, James Cemmell, Agus Suherman, Director General Surveillance Monitoring and Control, Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries / Kementerian Kelautan dan Perikanan (KKP) and First Secretary, UK Embassy, Christian Ayres mark the project’s successful closure.” Credit PT Hatfield Indonesia.

Inmarsat has marked the successful closure of a three-year fisheries innovation project using a dedicated Vessel Monitoring System, as part of the UK Space Agency’s International Partnership programme (IPP).

Working with the Indonesian Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries (MMAF) and its Department of Fisheries, the project used low-cost, solar-powered satellite technology on smaller fishing vessels, with the aim of enhancing safety, efficiency, ship-to-shore contact and offering potential fish stock sustainability improvements.

With Indonesia’s long coastlines and more than 17,000 islands, it is difficult and costly to monitor vessel movements in the country’s waters. Independent analysis by consultancy Poseidon Aquatic Resource Management, showed that applying 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 potential to improve the ability of Indonesia’s MMAF to address illegal fishing.

Satellite-based VMS

With funding from the UK Space Agency and support from Inmarsat, the IPP project was implemented to test the benefits and challenges of expanding the use of satellite-based Vessel Monitoring Systems (VMS). The tested satellite VMS system was expanded with various applications – referred to as VMS+.

The project had two aims:

  • To test whether Inmarsat VMS+ could increase the safety of fishers at sea and improve the efficiency of their fishing operations, and their livelihoods
  • To provide the PSDKP (Indonesia’s Directorate General of Marine and Fisheries Resources Surveillance) with spatial tracking data for smaller vessels and open the potential for e-reporting, such as via e-logbooks.

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

Acute distress

Fishers were able to call for help during times of acute distress, linking back to Inmarsat’s founding mission of saving lives at sea. Poseidon estimates that 39 lives were saved during this project. It also delivered enhanced capabilities in both the fisheries monitoring centre as well as on its patrol vessel.

James Cemmell, Vice President, Government Engagement, Inmarsat, said: “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. These are priorities that Inmarsat shares with our partners around the world, including on this project with the Indonesian government and with the UK Space Agency, whose support was pivotal. There are people alive today with their families because of this project, which is the most important result in many ways.

“Together with the fishing community, government, technologists and specialists in fisheries management, we have prototyped a ‘Made-in-Indonesia’ satellite communications device for fishers. We have also ensured that pricing reflects the economics of the sector, which contributes to affordability.

Independently verifies

“The results of the study have been independently verified and can be used to further modernise fisheries management in Indonesia. This can deliver the potential for more sustainable fish stocks, safer, better conditions for fishers, and improved economic growth from fisheries businesses.”

Dr Graham Turnock, CEO, UK Space Agency said: “This is a true reflection of what positive and prosperous partnerships can achieve. The Inmarsat, Indonesia project has aimed to benefit Indonesian fisheries by promoting inclusive and sustainable fishing practices, a huge step in encouraging global, responsible use of our ocean resources. Thanks to this project Indonesia will be able to improve the policing of illegal fishing and move the industry onto a more sustainable and profitable basis.”

The IPP is a £30 million a year programme run by the UK Space Agency. IPP focuses strongly on using the UK space sector’s research and innovation strengths to deliver a sustainable economic or societal benefit to emerging and developing economies around the world.

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