Fisheries Control

Credit: U.S. Navy
Credit: Picture courtesy  Australian Customs and Border Protection Service
Credit: Greenpeace

DOLPHIN will allow improved vessel detection and discrimination leading to better fisheries control.

The aim of this policy area is to support the monitoring and control of fisheries and fighting illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing using Earth Observation data integrated with vessel identification and in-situ data.    

The sustainable development of fisheries requires: 

  • better marine governance in terms of effective jurisdiction of coastal States over their waters;
  • a European-wide co-ordinated approach.


IUU fishing is a worldwide phenomenon. Its extent and its environmental, economic and social consequences are such that it has become a priority issue at an international level. IUU fishing contributes to the depletion of fish stocks and jeopardises protection and recovery measures put in place to ensure the viability of resources. It represents unfair competition for those who exploit fish resources legally.

In order to manage fishing activities correctly and fairly, it is necessary to trace the activities all along the supply chain, by using the most suitable and technologically advanced means. Such monitoring activity is carried out in different ways according to national rules.

Control over catch quantities is carried out mainly by collecting information on fishing halts, landed quantities, transfers, transports and from the ships’ logbooks. Within EU maritime policy, the “fishing effort” concept is defined as the multiplication of fishing capacity (tonnage and engine power)by the amount of time spent fishing. By correlating information related to vessel characteristics, time spent on fishing activities and “catch” methods applied, as well as by boarding ships and checking the onboard catch against logbooks, vessel tracks, permits and quotas, monitoring of fishing effort can be carried out. Cross checks are also performed via the national fishing vessels’ dedicated VMS (Vessel Monitoring System) and the AIS (Automatic Identification System).

In this context, satellite remote sensing technologies allow the presence of the vessels in a given area at a given date and time to be determined, coastal activities to be monitored, and contribute to the assessment of the overall conditions under which the fishing activity is performed. This capability complements the monitoring performed by patrols or ground-based systems.