MARISS Network & DOLPHIN innovation for Satellite based Maritime Services for Safety, Security and Fisheries
Nicolosi, Paola; Quattrociocchi, Dino

The need for global coverage, immediate -notice threat assessment and early warning capabilities has led Maritime authorities to adopt high technological solutions for Maritime Traffic Monitoring.

Maritime pictures used by these authorities currently rely upon information acquired from traditional maritime information sources (AIS, VMS, LRIT). One of the main limitations of adopted systems is the inability, when used as stand-alone tools, to track the approaching or departing ships (especially if non-cooperative), outside a range of few NM from the coastline, so that the awareness of competent authorities of an illegal approach or departure of smugglers or immigrants is generally raised too late.

In response to this specific gap the MARISS Services, provided through a geographically distributed network, improve the accuracy and completeness of the maritime picture by including information from complementary monitoring capabilities of high optical and SAR (Synthetic Aperture Radar) imaging space sensors and Satellite-AIS.

The operational use of satellite data in maritime applications allows sea waters to be monitored worldwide, irrespective of:

  • whether the area is within the range of coastal surveillance systems;
  • the behaviour of ships (cooperative or non-cooperative);
  • the time of day and weather conditions (this is possible with the use of
  • SAR satellite sensors).

    The service network, designed to improve the maritime border control and maritime situation awareness, also includes state of the art data fusion techniques to build an improved Maritime Picture from all available information sources and anomaly detection algorithms to identify suspicious behaviour and inconsistent reports on the generated maritime picture.

    Maritime Surveillance services currently in operation, based on Earth Observation (EO) data integrated with ancillary information (such as vessel reporting systems data and meteorological oceanographic data), respond to the following priority operational requirements:

  • detection of non-cooperative vessels (especially in open Sea)
  • detection of vessels anomalous behaviour (sudden change of speed or course, ships which deviate from the typical voyage course)
  • identification of contacts of interest; The EO (Earth Observation) data provides a more complete picture of the area around the tracked ships.
  • monitoring of ports or specific coastal sites;
  • support to the authorities in Fisheries Control
  • complement and support aircraft and vessel patrols (more efficient utilization of the existing maritime surveillance assets)
  • support to authorities in case of pirate attacks

    While MARISS is building up a network providing operational services, the DOLPHIN project is developing key technological and operational gap-filling innovations, leading in the mid-term to a full and sustainable operational exploitation of Earth Observation Satellites capabilities in the EU and MS maritime policies applications.

    DOLPHIN aims at developing new tools providing effective improvements of the state-of-the-art capabilities in Maritime Surveillance.

    DOLPHIN will respond to the specific Users needs, focused on Three policy areas selected as being in most need of improvement: Border Surveillance, Traffic Safety, Fisheries Control.

    Each of the listed policy areas has specific needs which can be fulfilled by EO-based services and products, over and above the cross-cutting requirement for timely and reliable information, for the enhancement of situational awareness, and for the improvement of reaction capabilities. These general user requirements - as well as those listed below for the specific policy areas - cannot be fulfilled by the current state-of-the-art of technologies and available Space-based assets. The list includes:

  • the need to detect very small boats (indicatively less than 8 meters), such as those used for illegal immigration or drug smuggling;
  • the capability, following ship detection, to backtrack the shipís route;
  • the need to discriminate between small and large boats, especially in remote areas, in order to identify rendezvous points for smugglers;
  • the enhancement of ship localisation accuracy in order to validate data provided by declarative systems, such as the Automatic Identification System (AIS);
  • the capability to detect and classify objects other than ships, such as fishing cages carried by fishing boats, icebergs threatening assets or routes, submerged ships, and aircraft.

    In this innovative development context , the MARISS Service Network is notable with respect to its role in validating the R&D activities carried out within DOLPHIN through its operational benchmarking tests. The accomplishment of the DOLPHIN projectís objectives in collaboration with MARISS will result in the development of a competitive position for the consortia partners and will represent a significant step forward for GMES services in support to European Maritime Surveillance.