The spark that became OceanMind arose in 2013 from a workshop held by the Satellite Applications Catapult. A representative of Pew Charitable Trusts asked how satellites can help with the problem of illegal fishing. The resulting conversation grew into a partnership to explore technological solutions to this global issue.
A technology demonstrator was developed under the Satellite Applications Catapult and Pew Charitable Trusts partnership. This technology brought together a range of data sources including satellite imagery and vessel licensing data to identify suspected illegal fishing to prove the concept.
The technology was developed further into a global capability that incorporated machine learning algorithms to automatically identify fishing activity and generate alerts so that users could investigate illegal fishing. Our first analyst joined in July, and the technology was refined monitoring protected areas for several small island locations around the world under project ‘Eyes on the Seas’.
Several new locations were added to the MPA monitoring programme, including Pitcairn Island that had recently become the world’s largest continuous marine reserve. Being one of the remotest locations on the planet, satellite surveillance is the most effective means of enforcement for the marine reserve. Launched our capacity building programme in support of the Royal Thai Government, helping to develop their enforcement capacity in order to overcome the threat of sanctions from the EU.
Monitoring for the seven British Overseas Territories of the Blue Belt Programme began, supporting the establishment of the UK’s network of large scale remote marine protected areas. Established a partnership with MDA Corporation to receive cost effective synthetic aperture radar satellite imagery over marine protected areas. Launched independent validation of catch legality for seafood, working with Sainsbury’s in the UK and the Seafood Task Force in Thailand. Began delivering fisheries intelligence to the Costa Rican Coast Guard.
OceanMind becomes an independent not-for-profit organisation with the mission to power fisheries enforcement and compliance supported by Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation, the Pew Charitable Trusts, and Satellite Applications Catapult. With a team of ten, OceanMind monitors over 5 million square kilometres of protected ocean and over ten thousand vessels in real time world-wide. Expanded the partnership with Sainsbury’s to validate responsible catch method for tuna supply chain. OceanMind supported INTERPOL during the capture of the notorious vessel STS-50, wanted for IUU fishing and human rights abuses.
Thailand receives a Green Card from the EU, removing the threat of sanctions, and similar projects extend to other South East Asian countries. OceanMind wins a position on Microsoft’s AI for Earth programme to build a planetary scale ocean data analytics system in the cloud enabling global real time analysis of even more data. Supported INTERPOL during the capture of the MV NIKA wanted for IUU fishing in the Southern Ocean. Supported Thailand during the capture of the WISDOM SEA REEFER, a carrier vessel wanted for IUU fishing and human rights abuses. Launched the Maritime Observatory in partnership with the Maritime Archaeology Sea Trust to detect and deter unauthorised salvage of undersea cultural heritage and war graves.
Covid-19 devastates parts of the seafood industry and restricts enforcement efforts. Remote sensing and fisheries intelligence from OceanMind enables enforcement to continue even with reduced patrol capacity. OceanMind’s fishing detection algorithms become sufficiently accurate for certain fisheries that it is possible to estimate the activity a crew is undertaking at each point during a fishing trip, leading to indicators of labour abuse. The development of AI for Human Rights begins a new chapter for OceanMind. OceanMind becomes a founding member of the Climate TRACE initiative championed by Al Gore. OceanMind models the greenhouse gas emissions of the global shipping fleet.