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12 winners of The Ocean Awards

12 winners of The Ocean Awards

6 of 12 6/12
The Ocean Awards winner Satellite Applications Catapult

Winner — Technology: Satellite Applications Catapult

For — the creation of its technology system Project Eyes on the Seas

Photo of Satellite Applications Catapult chief executive Stuart Martin by Christoffer Rudquist

_The Ocean Awards' Technology award celebrates the new technology or application thereof that has made the biggest contribution to ocean conservation in the past year. Satellite Applications Catapult won the award for its technology system Project Eyes on the Sea. _

“We were looking for areas where space technology could really provide some advantage and it quickly became apparent that the maritime sector was one area where it would have a huge advantage and could be doing much more than it currently is.” So says Stuart Martin, a former vice-chair of UK Space and a council member of Eurospace and now CEO of Satellite Applications Catapult, the UK innovation and technology company created in 2013 to foster growth across the economy through the exploitation of space.

Research into which areas might benefit led to a workshop with Pew Charitable Trusts, a Philadelphia-based NGO that has campaigned to end illegal fishing. “So we started thinking how satellites could shine a light on that activity,” says Martin. The result is, in the words of one of the Ocean Awards judges, Professor Callum Roberts, “a game-changer in ocean conservation”: a pioneering technology named Eyes on the Seas that can detect illegal fishing via satellites.

As Professor Roberts explains: “One of the arguments continually laid at the foot of those campaigning for greater ocean protection is: how can you stop people from fishing in huge and remote areas? And the truth is that until now it was difficult. But with satellite surveillance and monitoring, there is no place for these boats to hide. We can watch them. We can see what they’re doing. We can identify potentially illegal behaviour patterns. We can see when they go into supposedly protected waters; when they move around in a way that suggests they are fishing. And when something signals suspicious behaviour, you can focus in on that vessel, follow it around, and when it next comes into port, you can nail it.” It is also, he points out, a much less expensive and more efficient way of patrolling the ocean than using boats.

As Martin adds: “It supports nation states, it supports enforcement agencies, fishing vessels that are trying to behave legally and the supermarkets and supply-chain companies so that they can have better assurance on where the produce they are buying comes from. We’re at the stage where we are doing live trials and will be moving to operation next year.” Industrial-scale pirate fishers won’t know they are under surveillance, but they will be.

Highly commended — Schmidt Ocean Institute

For – its project in the remote Timor Sea, where some of the healthiest coral reefs in the world continue to thrive. By combining the use of a high-performance supercomputer, the first of its kind on a research vessel, with remote-sensing technologies, it was able to examine how fine-scale oceanographic processes drive the connectivity and productivity of these reefs, so enabling a greater understanding of the ecological processes that shape coral reef communities and identifying the habitats most likely to be sensitive to disturbances such as bleaching.

Highly commended — Smartfin

For – enabling surfers to collect data to understand better the effects of climate change on coastal systems. Founded by Dr Andrew Stern, a retired neurologist, Smartfin is a surfboard fin with sensors that measures multiple ocean parameters including salinity, pH, temperature, location and wave characteristics.

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