Project Sea Far: Monitoring illegal fishing along the South African coast

Project Information

  • Stakeholder: Rory Meyer
  • Students: Desire Matabane (UCT), Glen Mashele (UJ), Julio Baeta (Wits), Sinethemba Badi (UFH), Themba Mathebula (SMU)
  • Project Lead: Dhiren Seetharam
  • Project Mentors: Jonathan Gerrand
  • Year: 2016/2017

Project Description

Project-Sea Far is a project tasked for monitoring the South African oceans mainly the fishing activities. This includes SA and Non-SA vessels that traffic through South Africa’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), the main objective centered around vessels that frequent regularly, their activities and also their legitimacy. With a lot of cases of illegal fishing the Project-Sea Far system aims to monitor such activities, visualise information and aid in reducing illegal fishing. South Africa’s EEZ consists of 1,535,538 km2 where the exploration and exploitation of marine resources is authorised exclusively for the South African continent. This project provides The Baywatchers with the ability to understand fishing events and activities within maritime environment and can be enhanced by the automatic identification and classification of illegal fishing vessels activities.

Project-Sea Far designed a software system that is able to monitor South Africa water’s finishing activities. This was achieved by extracting relevant Automatic Identification System AIS data to track ships movement, speed and their destination in South African waters.

Student Remarks

The students found this project enriching and relevant to serving common good of South Africa, Data Science and Analytics are relevant and growing fields and this project is a prime examples of the prowess it provides in aiding the South African natural resources from being exploited. They believe the project enhanced their data science skills since they have different careers ranging from Statistics, computer science and engineering. They further felt that the project’s dataset is very interesting as it has many possibilities that can be explored. The 1,5 million square kilometers of ocean needs to be patrolled and there are four navy helicopters, and about 14 vessels to do that, the students believe. The students believe that the project has been very helpful that they got to experience the workplace environment.

Author: Team + Nolihle Gulwa, B Tech Journalism, Walter Sisulu University.