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Monitoring the ocean and fisheries using Earth observation data


In our "Day to Day" series of podcasts, we discuss how Earth observation data benefits our lives in different ways.

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gen dalton

Continuing in a similar vein, the latest episode takes us to the marine world and focuses on fisheries, where we learn how satellite data is used to monitor the marine environment, support maritime safety and help manage fishing activity off the coast of West Africa, with special focus on detecting illegal fishing activities.

Last Updated

19 May 2022

Published on

23 September 2020



Sectors such as fisheries heavily depend on accurate information about the weather and climate.

Fisheries are not only a predominant source of protein for many, but also a very important part of many world economies, providing jobs to a lot of the population. Needless to say, this makes their management for future sustainability that much more important.

The continuity of global coverage that satellite data provides makes it an essential instrument for the monitoring of marine ecosystems. The use of satellites aids in supporting sustainable fishing activities.

Observing fisheries from space

Fisheries are a very clear and direct indication of one of the ways in which we, as a society, are involved with the oceans. Consequently, it is important to note how satellite data can help in better managing this important food and economic resource.

The natural environment influences fisheries in various ways, including aspects such as the quality of the water, the presence of sediments and the use of plankton as the base food. Maritime safety is another area of concern. The ability to observe fishing and aquaculture activities from space, combined with space-based communications, play an important role in the management of fisheries and fishing activities.

The combination of two fundamental factors—knowing the marine environment and knowing where fishing takes place—can be really powerful; leading to more productive, better managed and more sustainable fisheries. More importantly, it also ensures compliance by helping to detect and discourage illegal fishing activities.

Satellites such as Copernicus Sentinel-3 can observe large parts of the ocean from space, subsequently providing useful information for the management of ocean resources and maritime safety.

Listen to episode six of our series of podcasts here:



Our most recent episode features guest Kwame Adu Agyekum of the University of Ghana, who discusses the importance of such satellite data in the continued monitoring and support of ocean and fishing activities from space, emphasising on the management and deterring of illegal fishing.