If you’re fishing in Danish waters over the coming months don’t be surprised if a large helicopter drone comes over your boat.
The Danish Fisheries Agency has decided to up its fisheries monitoring to be more effective than ever before, by employing drones to spy on fishing vessels operating in their waters.
From week 20 of 2022 for two months, the Danish Fisheries Agency, in collaboration with the Danish Navy, the Danish Air Force, the Danish Customs and the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA), will test a helicopter drone in the waters off North Jutland.
The drone is of the type Schiebel Camcopter S-100. It is approximately 3 metres long and weighs about 100 kg. With an action radius of approximately 200 km and a mission time of up to 8 hours a day, the drone flies from the radar station in Skagen. It is made available to the Danish authorities by EMSA and operated by Schiebel’s pilots and camera operators, while the Danish authorities sit next to the pilot and guide the operators.
The purpose of the test is to strengthen the monitoring of the marine environment and to test whether the drone technology can be used for other tasks within the areas of responsibility of the participating authorities.
For the Danish Fisheries Agency, it is especially about creating technological progress that can strengthen some of the tasks that are difficult to control and document with existing tools. These include on misreporting of catchment areas, fishing in restricted areas, monitoring of Natura 2000 sites and control of illegal discard.
The data gathered from the flights will be shared live through the EMSA RPAS Data Centre allowing users to monitor any unusual activity at sea with a potentially harmful impact on the safety and security of persons and vessels in the area or affecting the environment itself. The service makes it possible to monitor and alert authorities in case of drifting objects spotted at sea which may pose a danger to vessels in the vicinity and/or the environment. This is especially useful in areas of high traffic density.
The Royal Danish Navy acts on behalf of Denmark’s Ministry of Environment to safeguard the protection of the marine environment in the surrounding waters. EMSA’s RPAS service will support this activity by helping them to identify, verify and provide information on potential oil spills and discharges at sea. In doing so, the service complements the EU’s satellite-based service for oil spill detection.
Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (RPAS) services are offered free to all EU member states by EMSA. They have been developed to assist in maritime surveillance operations and ship emission monitoring and can operate in all seas surrounding the European Union. RPAS services can provide support to traditional coast guard functions, including search and rescue and pollution prevention and response. The services are offered to member states individually and as part of EMSA’s regional RPAS strategy, which allows multiple coast guard functions in several EU member states to be supported by one or more RPAS services. Further expansion of RPAS regionally is planned in 2022.