Analysis by KSAT verifies illegal fishing fleet outside Somalia

Vessel detection reports from KSAT have been used by Global Fishing Watch and Trygg Mat Tracking as part of a newly published report identifying one of the largest illegal fishing operations in the world.

Image: Iranian gillnet fishing vessel in Berbera harbour in 2015. Global Fishing Watch ©Charles Kilgour

As described in this week’s article in The Guardian, “A large fleet of Iranian fishing vessels has been identified operating illegally in Somalian waters for over a year, depleting fish stocks in a country where one in three people face acute shortages of food”. 

KSAT has provided vessel detection services to the Global Fishing Watch / TMT team working to expose this troubling situation, with the evidence suggesting the Iranian fleet could be more than six times the size of the tuna fleet licensed to fish sustainably in Somalia waters.

KSAT used both high-resolution satellite imagery from our partner Iceye and the European Space Agency’s Sentinel-1. 

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Image: The vessel detection reports from KSAT indicate a significant number of ‘dark vessels’ active in the area, and using AIS fishing gear without a vessel transponder. (Red dots in the image are vessels detected in the satellite image that are not reporting AIS) Contains Sentinel-1 data ©ESA 2020.

The analysis conducted by KSAT and Global Fishing Watch indicate a significant number of ‘dark vessels’ are active and using AIS fishing gear without a vessel transponder – close to 75% of the vessels fishing in the area are not indicating their presence; this now appears to be one of the largest illegal fishing operations in the world.

Read the full report here: https://globalfishingwatch.org/wp-content/uploads/GFW-TMT-2020.pdf

Article published in the Guardian: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/jun/29/iranian-fleet-accused-of-stealing-somalian-fish-despite-acute-food-shortage