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Secure Our Oceans: Technology and Innovation to Safeguard Marine Protected Areas and Combat Illegal Fishing

in Program

In partnership with National Geographic’s Pristine Seas project


In response to rising international attention to the issue of fish crime and the threat it poses to conservation, development and international security, a global strategy to protect our oceans is beginning to take shape. Technology is playing a large role in this developing strategy and many innovative and unique technologies have arisen to meet the challenge of illegal fishing – from satellite technology to “smart” buoys, to unmanned surface vessels and aerial vehicles (drones).

Yet the availability of clear and organized information on existing and emerging technologies and how it is being used to protect MPAs is sparse, hindering the ability of decision makers to make fully informed decisions. To solve this problem, the Stimson Center, in partnership and in collaboration with leading conservation and technology experts, is cataloguing existing technologies available to combat illegal fishing and safeguarding MPAs. The final product is an online and publically accessible open source website. This website will be both a ‘one-stop-shop’ for basic information about existing MPA enforcement technologies as well as a source for inspiration and storytelling about how technology is currently being used to safeguard MPAs around the world.

The website will include information on specific products within a number of technological categories, including manned and unmanned aerial patrols, unmanned surface vessels, enforcement buoys, acoustic sensors, radar technologies, mobile technologies, onboard observation technology, and camera surveillance. For each product, the website will include a simple description in non-technical language along with the technology type and cost, as information is available. aims to be an early matchmaker between countries in need of enforcement technology and products that can meet those needs. It also aims to serve the donor community, NGOs and private sector companies that want to participate in the fight against illegal fishing and to protect MPAs.

Following the launch of this platform, additional capabilities for the site include the ability for outside users to input information on new technology, making the site a crowdsourcing tool, putting together “marine enforcement pods” to conduct feasibility studies, as well as the opportunity to participate in pilot enforcement projects. The website will be launched ahead of the Our Oceans conference and World Conservation Congress this year.

Being Featured as a Tech in Action project

In order to truly close the gap between technology producers and those who need it, decision makers need more than information on technology products – they also need a clear idea and inspiration on how to use them to meet their goals. To this end, Secure Our Oceans offers the opportunity to engage with the site and the technology through storytelling. The website will feature stories of technology in action safeguarding MPAs and fighting illegal fishing. These Tech in Action features will be written in an engaging manner and accompanied by photos, videos and other visual media to truly immerse the reader in the field experience. Importantly, the stories will reflect honest, unbiased looks at the challenges faced and lessons learned through implementing technology projects for MPA enforcement. In this way, the Tech in Action feature will also contribute to the ongoing global dialogue on the role and potential impact of technology in international security, development and conservation, as well as towards understanding technology’s benefits and limitations.

We would like to work closely with leading organizations using and/or producing technologies to combatting illegal fishing and safeguarding MPAs to feature as a Tech in Action story. For more information, please contact either Johan Bergenas, Senior Associate and Director of Partnerships in Security and Development, at [email protected] or 202-478-3443, or Ariella Knight, who directs the research team for this initiative, at [email protected] or 202-464-2676. 

Please see the below pre-launch video, released in anticipation of the full launch of in September 2016:

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