Like hundreds of other locations throughout the world, Madagascar is concerned with ensuring future sustainable commercial fishing around it’s coastline for future generations. Madagascar operates an economic exclusion zone up to 200 nautical miles from its coastline with established quotas for different categories of fish. Monitoring teams for the island’s Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries have begun using Inmarsat’s FleetBroadband 150 marine satellite services (FBB150) in order to enhance their surveillance activities.
Estimates show that around 300,000 tons of fish around the island's 5,603 km (3482-mile) coastline are of commercial interest and around 145,000 tons are currently being exploited. Included in these stocks are tuna, shrimp, crab and lobster. The Madagascar Monitoring Centre’s goal is to ensure the rational and sustainable exploitation of marine resources within its exclusive economic zone.
Last year, a three-month maritime field evaluation using a marine satellite services terminal yielded immediate improvements, in fact, it “revolutionized” communication onboard the vessel.
The monitoring vessel had been previously using Inmarsat’s entry-level voice, fax, and 9.6kbps circuit-switched data service Fleet 33.
In addition to enabling the centre to more accurately plan the vessel’s operations and improve its surveillance capabilities, the increased efficiency of the FBB150 also resulted in fuel cost savings.
"Our client reports much improved capabilities. Before the FleetBroadband 150 was fitted it was not possible to obtain, in real time, the positions of other vessels in Madagascar's waters. The vessel had to call the monitoring centre to find out where vessels were", said Satellite Air Time's technical manager Oumesh Tewary.
Equipped with Satellite Airtime's tracking software, the monitoring vessel Atsanta now receives onboard data reports via the FBB150 which are then automatically plotted onto the SP's monitoring software, Babel Solution. The FBB150 was pivotal in an operation in which two vessels fishing illegally were seized. The service allowed coordination of the surveillance of the suspected boats as well as the transmission of real-time information between the Atsanta and the monitoring centre. “These vessels have now been taken over by the Malagasy authorities and may be converted for monitoring use”, says Oumesh.
Under the direction of the Indian Ocean Commission and in conjunction with Mauritius, Seychelles, Comores and Reunion Island, the Atsanta is also supporting a regional surveillance program. This program will provide mutual assistance designed to protect the exclusion zones of each territory.
Because of the tremendous success of the FBB150 trial onboard the Atsanta a local marine operator has recently installed three of the larger Inmarsat FleetBroadband 500 terminals on its vessels.