ceos   eesa
Exploring Contributions from Satellites in Support of SDG Targets and Indicators
  SDG-2: Zero Hunger  
  SDG-6: Clean Water and Sanitation  
  SDG-11: Sustainable Cities and Communities  
  SDG-14: Life Below Water  
  SDG-15: Life on Land  

Click for print edition photo spread >>
spacer Goal 14: Life Below Water

Satellite imagery can contribute to the to the monitoring and sustaining of marine resources, and features in the plans of SDG 14 custodian agencies and supporting activities. This includes the monitoring of Coastal Eutrophication and Floating Plastic Debris Density, as well as the regulation and monitoring of illegal fishing activities. Satellites can help to address the challenges of the vast scale, and the difficulty in accessing many areas of the world’s oceans.

Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area

The eReefs Marine Water Quality Dashboard provides operational near real-time information on water quality for Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. Remote sensing provides measurements of marine indicators (e.g., chlorophylla levels, suspended sediments and dissolved organic matter) that can help marine park management assess ecosystem health and inshore water quality. Observations from NASA’s Aqua satellite have provided accurate, regionally tuned water quality information, allowing managers and policymakers to inform, assess and improve the outcomes of their management decisions.

Satellites routinely and systematically provide observations of chlorophyll-a on the ocean surface. Chlorophyll-a is a key indicator of microscopic green algae (phytoplankton), and while phytoplankton are a natural part of the reef ecosystem, elevated levels signal elevated nutrient levels, especially nitrogen. These increased nutrient levels can interfere with the balance of the ecosystem, and can lead to coral bleaching and die-off. Typical sources of nitrogen include runoff from excess fertiliser being applied to crops and sewage contamination from urban areas.

Satellites contribute to informed decisions around the management and regulation of fertiliser usage and sewage management, meaning the overall health of the Reef can be managed for preservation and assessed on a systematic, quantitative and transparent basis.

Illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing

The annual value of Illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing is estimated to be up to $US23.5 billion with a catch totalling 26 million tonnes – one-fifth of the total annual catch worldwide. IUU undermines efforts to enforce regulations intended to conserve the ocean ecosystem. For example, species of fish that have been over-exploited are thus in short supply, which increases the price and in turn increases the incentive to circumvent limits put in place to protect stocks.

Ensuring compliance with the rules and regulations can be time and resource intensive or infeasible. Maritime patrols are costly, inefficient, often dangerous, and can be ineffective. Land-based monitoring is unable to mitigate vessel-to-vessel transfers at sea and can be circumvented. Satellite-based monitoring offers a synoptic solution and, when combined with a number of different data sources, can be an effective means for detecting IUU fishing.

Satellite monitoring is used by OceanMind, a not-for-profit organisation working to increase the sustainability of fishing globally through actionable insights into fishing activity and vessel compliance. OceanMind combines position and heading information from ship-based Automated Identification Systems (AIS), satellite imagery and details about a vessel’s history, licenses and ownership. It employs machine learning to rapidly and automatically assess vessel behaviour using these observations, flagging suspicious activities for follow-up by enforcement authorities. Both optical and radar satellite imagery is employed, providing an all-weather, day-and-night monitoring capability in support of Indicator 14.6.1.
spacer spacer spacer