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Maritime Tracking Tool Helps African Countries Combat Illegal Fishing

Monday, June 23, 2014

The U.S. Navy in Africa is relying on a Volpe maritime tool called SeaVision to help countries on the western coast of Africa combat human traffic smuggling, illicit drug trade, piracy, and illegal fishing on their waterways.

An incident off the coast of Senegal this past January showcased the value of the tool. Maritime officers received a tip about a vessel potentially fishing illegally. By using SeaVision, the Navy helped Senegalese officials track the ship’s movement and found that it was a repeat offender of illegal fishing. Senegal received $1.2 million in fines from the ship’s owner.

The story of SeaVision was recently told in Stars and Stripes, an independent news outlet for the U.S. military community. The article, “Navy Helps Coastal Africa Map a Common Picture of the Sea,” tells the story of a Navy civilian’s quest to develop a common radar picture for nations in the Gulf of Guinea struggling to share information about suspicious vessels.

Mapping the Movement of Ships

Working for the U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa, Navy civilian Kirsty McLean spoke to a Volpe expert who helped realize her vision. The solution: SeaVision.

SeaVision enables users to see ships on a map and view the movement history of those ships. This Internet-based program leverages Google Maps, using a program already familiar to users in order to display more than 62,000 ships around the world and their corresponding information.

A Google Map of SeaVision showing small green and purple triangles to depict ships' location and direction of movement at sea.
SeaVision leverages Google Maps to display more than 62,000 ships around the world and their corresponding information, including a ship's position, course, and speed, as well as the name and size of a vessel. (Volpe image)

To learn more about how SeaVision is helping Coastal African nations to spot threats in territorial and international waters, read the Stars and Stripes article.

To learn more about maritime situational awareness and SeaVision, see Volpe’s infographic.

Image of a blue map of Africa with a compass resting on the map.