The European Fisheries Control Agency (EFCA) are using drones to spy on fishing boats in the Mediterranian, North-East Atlantic, North Sea and Baltic Sea.

The quadcopter, developed by the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) has developed the Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (RPAS) is currently being used onboard the Lundy Sentinel patrol vessel operated by the EFCA.

EFCA believe that the drone will help improve the current surveillance system, as it conducts pre-boarding assessments, surveillance during boarding and post boarding analysis to be carried out remotely, benefiting fisheries inspections and control.

By flying in the vicinity of a fishing vessel, the remote controlled aircraft can collect data from different activities on board. This data is then transmitted in real time to EFCA’s liaison officer deployed on board the Lundy Sentinel, as well as to EFCA’s coordination centre in Vigo, and EMSA’s headquarters in Lisbon.

The drone is designed to detect: 

  • maritime pollution and emissions monitoring;
  • detection of illegal fishing, anti-drug trafficking, and illegal immigration;
  • search and rescue operations.

The drone is fitted with optical cameras in the visible and infrared (IR) spectral range for night and day maritime surveillance, IR sensors for oil slick detection and analysis, radar for maritime surveillance, and oil spill detection, and gas sensors (“sniffers”) to measure the amount of SOx in a plume emitted by a ship to be able to calculate the percentage of sulphur used in the fuel burned by the ship. Additionally all RPAS are equipped with AIS sensors to have a complete picture

Used as a complementary tool in the overall surveillance chain which includes satellite imagery, vessel positioning information and surveillance by manned maritime patrol aircraft and vessels, the drone service “will increase the maritime situational awareness with additional sources of data.”

Image Credit: EMSA/Nordic Unmanned/SES

EFCA to use Quadcopter Drone in Fisheries Surveillance

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