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Sea of possibilities: Old and new uses of remote sensing data for the enforcement of the Ascension Island marine protected area

Appleby, Thomas; Studley, Matthew; Moorhouse, Brendon; Brown, Judith; Staddon, Chad; Bean, Emma


Brendon Moorhouse

Judith Brown

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Chad Staddon
Professor/Associate Head of Department: Research and Scholarship

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Emma Bean
Occasional Associate Lecturer - FET ABE


Very large marine protected areas are in danger of becoming 'paper parks'. This paper uses an interdisciplinary team to investigate the use of remote sensing technologies to provide sufficient evidence for effective fisheries management. It uses the intended marine protected area around Ascension Island as a case study. Satellite technology provides opportunities to detect the presence of fishing vessels but because of difficulties with data interpretation, it is unlikely to be a sole source of evidence for prosecutions. Developing drone technology and traditional over-flights by aerial surveillance may supplement satellite technology with 'eyewitness’ evidence. Well-crafted regulations will be able to make some use of this data, but the evidential requirements of criminal courts make prosecutions difficult to pursue. There is some scope to expand management opportunities through vesting the fishery in a public body and pursuing offenders through civil law, this approach having a different suite of remedies. Other opportunities lie in giving very large marine protected areas legal personality which has similar advantages and additional reputational benefits. Using remote sensing data in the civil court poses evidential problems. An alternative approach is to collate data around frequent infringers and, by negatively impacting on their reputation, restrict their ability to obtain insurance, finance, access to fisheries and market access. This is exemplified in port state measures by fisheries authorities and chain of custody requirements by labeling bodies. Data sharing raises challenges with intellectual property and coordination. The paper demonstrates that there are opportunities to make VLMPAs work more effectively.


Appleby, T., Studley, M., Moorhouse, B., Brown, J., Staddon, C., & Bean, E. (2021). Sea of possibilities: Old and new uses of remote sensing data for the enforcement of the Ascension Island marine protected area. Marine Policy, 127, Article 103184.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jun 22, 2018
Online Publication Date Jun 30, 2018
Publication Date 2021-05
Deposit Date Jul 4, 2018
Publicly Available Date Dec 31, 2019
Journal Marine Policy
Print ISSN 0308-597X
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 127
Article Number 103184
Keywords Conservation; Enforcement; Law; Remote Sensing; Management; Fisheries
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information Additional Information : This is the author's accepted manuscript. The final published version is available here:


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