December 14, 2018

A New Era in Palau

Skylight works with Palau to shine a light on dark vessel activity

At the recently concluded Our Ocean conference in Bali, Indonesia, President Remengesau Jr. of Palau announced the next phase in an important partnership between Palau and Vulcan Inc. Teaming up with Oceans5, Palau will use Vulcan’s Skylight maritime intelligence technology to shine a light on dark vessels threatening Palau’s exclusive economic zone.

Palau has committed to creating the largest National Marine Sanctuary in the world, eliminating fishing in 80 percent of its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) by 2020. In order to regularly surveil such a vast protected area, Palau has turned to Skylight to monitor their waters from space and provide intelligence to their law enforcement assets on the water.

In announcing the partnership at the Our Ocean Conference President Remengesau Jr. said: “Skylight is essential as my government works to secure our waters from those who would attempt to steal from our citizens and damage our beautiful natural heritage…let this be a warning to all who enter Palau’s Exclusive Economic Zone illegally. We are watching. This is a new era.”

Within the first twenty days of the partnership, Skylight detected vessels that had suspiciously turned off their location devices and were operating in or just outside Palau’s EEZ. Two of the vessels were likely engaged in transshipment, which is highly correlated with illegal transfer of fish, laborers, and other illicit goods. Skylight also detected a cluster of dark vessels, and in the area surveilled near Palau’s southern border found that 84 percent of vessels were not transmitting their automatic identification system signals.

One of Palau's patrol vessel, the PSS President H.I. Remeliik, left on patrol shortly after the first data from Skylight were collected and focused its activity in the region with the greatest concentration of dark vessels. Agents on the Remeliik used the information to board three vessels and found one to be engaging in illicit activity. Vulcan’s Skylight technology uses machine learning, big data analytics, and satellite technology to discover suspicious activity, particularly rendezvous and “dark vessels” at sea, and provide actionable intelligence to law enforcement assets.

Bill Hilf, CEO of Vulcan, said, “Vulcan is proud to stand side-by-side with the world’s greatest ocean leaders. This is just the beginning of the impact that we hope to deliver to Palau as they work towards their 2020 marine protected area goal and to other large ocean nations around the world.”

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