West Viginia: SkyTruth, a West Verginia-based nonprofit organization, has been hired to monitor illegal fishing in Chilean waters. They are using a combination of radar images and maritime traffic data to find out the illegal fishing vessels.
Chilean officials wanted to solve an illegal fishing problem in the Easter Island, a Chilean territory 2,000 miles off its coast. Chile was working with the Pew Charitable Trusts on the issue; the Trusts hired SkyTruth to figure it out. These waters are one of the most remote places on Earth and cover 270,000 square miles. SkyTruth uses Automatic Identification System (AIS) data to be able to read radio signals along with the ship’s name, size, speed and ownership. Although fishing vessels are exempt from using AIS transponders, but SkyTruth uses AIS as a screen to identify most ships passing through Easter Island”s no-fishing area. This offers them a map of ships in the area on a specific day and time. They then match the days and times of both maps – the AIS information and the radar images – and lay one over the other. Since the radar map also shows ships with no transponders, they are highly suspicious, some making the telltale back-and-forth patterns of trawling nets. SkyTruth has been able to help the Chilean officials deal with a number of illegal fishing vessels.