MDA Provides Global Fishing Watch Access to RADARSAT-2 Archive to Help Combat Illegal Fishing

Radarsat constellation (Credit: CSA)

Illegal fishing is the planet’s 6th largest crime and poses incredible risks to the preservation and health of ocean ecosystems

BRAMPTON, Ont. (MDA PR) — MDA Ltd. (TSX:MDA), a leading provider of advanced technology and services to the rapidly expanding global space industry, announced today at the 2022 UN Ocean Conference a major new contribution to international efforts to monitor, track and intercept illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing activities using satellite technology.

MDA is providing Global Fishing Watch (GFW) – an international non-governmental organization committed to advancing the sustainability of our oceans through increased transparency – with access to the company’s RADARSAT-2 satellite radar archive. The RADARSAT-2 archive represents a 14-year historical record of the Earth and includes more than 970,000 images, including over 26 billion square kilometers of oceanic synthetic aperture radar (SAR) data. GFW intends to utilize the archive to map IUU fishing patterns using science-based analytics that will be used by international policymakers, conservationists and researchers to more effectively fight these illegal practices. 

According to the United Nations, IUU fishing is the planet’s 6th largest crime, with 20% of the over 90 million tonnes of fish caught globally each year being captured illegally – at an estimated cost of US$23.5 billion annually.

“MDA believes in using space-based technology to make life better on Earth, and we’re proud to play a leading role in helping Global Fishing Watch and nations around the world stop the unacceptable level of illegal fishing activities that take place every single day and put our ocean ecosystems and economies at serious risk,” said Mike Greenley, Chief Executive Officer of MDA. “Seeing is believing, and our RADARSAT-2 satellite imagery, combined with MDA’s expertise in maritime domain awareness and analytics, creates a powerful, complete and compelling visual record backed by scientific insight of what is happening on the world’s oceans.”

“Global Fishing Watch is revealing human activity in the ocean and making it freely available to the world. MDA’s RADARSAT-2 satellite imagery, combined with our AI and datasets, has the potential to revolutionize understanding of the marine environment by shining a light on hidden and suspicious fishing activity,” said Tony Long, Chief Executive Officer of Global Fishing Watch. “We applaud MDA’s ground-breaking contribution to ocean management and are excited to harness their imagery to help rein in the outlaw ocean and bring greater transparency to what happens at sea.”

MDA is active every day in the fight against IUU, providing near real-time monitoring of fishing activity to nations through the MDA Maritime Insights platform. The company has worked with Canadian and international fisheries agencies for years to provide actionable maritime intelligence data that addresses dark vessel detection and supports maritime enforcement initiatives. 

Canada has the longest coastline in the world, and strategic investments by the federal government have enabled Canada, working with MDA, to become an early leader in using space-based technology to survey and support the health of the ocean ecosystems. These capabilities are being fully harnessed today through the utilization of our RADARSAT-2 satellite – which can image more than 250,000 km2 of the ocean in less than a minute, regardless of weather conditions and the time of day or night – and through associated products like MDA’s Maritime Insights platform, which is helping nations around the world better understand what is happening on their coastlines.

ABOUT MDA

Serving the world from its Canadian home and global offices, MDA (TSX:MDA) is an international space mission partner and a robotics, satellite systems and geointelligence pioneer with a 50-year story of firsts on and above the Earth. With over 2,400 staff across Canada, the US and the UK, MDA is leading the charge towards viable Moon colonies, enhanced Earth observation, communication in a hyper-connected world, and more. With a track record of making space ambitions come true, MDA enables highly skilled people to continually push boundaries, tackle big challenges, and imagine solutions that inspire and endure to change the world for the better, on the ground and in the stars.