A key aspect of SAMSA's mandate is to ensure safety of life at sea, including small vessels in the fisheries, leisure marine and workboat sectors. These vessels, particularly artisanal fishing boats, typically operate without a tracking system onboard, making it difficult for the authorities to locate them if they are involved in an accident at sea. With IPSP funding, exactEarth Europe and its IPSP partners SRT Marine Technology (SRT - UK) and Marine Data Solutions (MDSol - South Africa), were able to carry out extensive sea trials in South Africa of their cost effective ‘Advanced Class B Satellite Enabled AIS’ (ABSEA) Identifier – designed specifically to support long and short range small vessel tracking.
The ABSEA Identifier is battery-powered and can easily be fitted onto very small boats with little or no on-board infrastructure. It transmits standard Class B AIS position reports that can be detected by coastal AIS systems, but it is also enhanced to maximise its ability to be detected by exactEarth’s satellite AIS constellation. This ensures a boat can be tracked both inshore and offshore and those locations where coastal AIS is not available. Both the Identifier’s satellite and coastal position reports are provided as standard AIS messages for integration into third-party maritime domain awareness systems, as well as being viewable in exactEarth’s ‘ShipView’ data visualisation tool.
Following the success of the trial in South Africa, SAMSA is now assessing its options for the operational use of ABSEA. In the meantime, and under a grant extension from the UKSA, exactEarth Europe, SRT, MDSol and SAMSA are currently conducting a second, smaller trial with the Namibian Directorate of Maritime Affairs on their Atlantic coast, where they share similar small vessel safety concerns with SAMSA. This trial should be concluded by September, 2016.
“The extensive trial activity being conducted in South Africa under the OASIS project is a very important step in the validation and introduction of our small vessel tracking solution.” said Peter Mabson, CEO of exactEarth. “The work on the project to deploy this product in a real world environment and to get critical feedback from a range of actual users who face these real world issues is invaluable as a major step in the market introduction process for this exciting new capability. We would sincerely like to thank SAMSA for their support and feedback related to the project and to UKSA for providing the funding and oversight for this important activity. We also look forward to taking this activity to the next level as an operational capability in South Africa and to thereby make a meaningful contribution to the improvement of maritime safety.”
“The OASIS project, through the use of the Identifiers, provided very valuable information to SAMSA related to the capability of detecting, tracking and monitoring of small vessels in the trial areas.” said Captain Karl Otto, Executive Head, Centre for Sea Watch & Response, SAMSA. “A debt of gratitude goes to the UK Space Agency as Sponsor for this trial in South Africa, and to SRT Marine (UK) as well. Also, our thanks goes to exactEarth Europe for making the trial a reality, to Marine Data Solutions for their full support and to our SAMSA colleagues who participated in and supported the concept of the project in the trial areas. The trial proved to be very beneficial in addressing the problem of detecting and identifying small boats along the coastline, primarily for SAMSA’s maritime safety purposes.”
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