TomKat KoolPak

As champions of a circular, sustainable solution to the environmentally-damaging problem of polystyrene fish packaging, we are delighted to support Tom and Kath Long as they bring the revolutionary TomKat KoolPak to market.

Since Belinda first connected with Tom almost a year ago, we have been enormously impressed with Tom and Kath’s energy, focus and commitment to quality. We think the Koolpak is set to take the packaging world by storm and it is our great pleasure to be a “Koollaborator” and share Tom and Kath’s story so far.


Why the KoolPak?

Kath explained that when she and her husband, Tom, decided to market their premium quality reef fish direct to the public, including top-line Sydney restaurants, polystyrene proved a barrier. “We were concerned about the volume of polystyrene going to landfill, or even worse, the ocean. We searched for an alternative, but nothing matched polystyrene’s performance, so we created our own.” From the outset, their innovation needed to be environmentally responsible and thermally efficient for it to be viable. The project has grown significantly since then, and their re-usable, recyclable box, which is now trademarked as the TomKat KoolPak, has developed into a system complete with block chain traceability and temperature monitoring.

Kath and Tom’s research indicates that the seafood industry is responsible for approximately half a billion Polystyrene (EPS) fish boxes entering landfill and the ocean every year. Polystyrene can also find its way into the stomachs of seabirds, sea mammals, fish and other marine life affecting the entire food chain.

EPS fish boxes are the most commonly used product for transportation and protection of fish and fish products worldwide. They have well-established attributes in thermal performance, impact protection and stacking strength. In addition, they are lightweight and relatively cheap to manufacture. Unfortunately, the very qualities that make EPS such a cost-effective material are also the reasons it has become widely considered as an environmental problem. Polystyrene is one of the most common items floating in the ocean, readily harming sea life and human health.

The seafood industry is directly dependent on the health and resilience of the world’s oceans. Reducing the use of polystyrene packaging demonstrates our commitment to environmental responsibility and improves our social licence to operate.


Features of the TomKat KoolPak

Kath and Tom explained “Since flying our own line caught reef fish to Lolla Producer, a show designed to introduce best-in-class producers to chefs who share values of local, ethical and sustainable produce, in our prototype KoolPak we have been focussed on developing the most advanced, environmentally responsible packaging solution in the world. The TomKat KoolPak provides so much more than just an alternative to EPS.”

They have worked meticulously with three Australian companies, each of them recognised globally as having sustainable practices and as leaders in their own fields, to develop materials which are best in their class. Specific blends have been developed, tested, and manufactured specifically for the KoolPak project, and Kath and Tom have ensured that no materials are co-mingled so they remain 100% recyclable. Beyond excellent material specifications, many of the processes to convert these into the required form were developed specifically for this project. These processes are currently being adapted by a global leader in designing manufacturing systems to develop commercialised machinery capable of high-volume outputs with lowest energy inputs.

Independent testing by the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries has proven that the KoolPak has equivalent thermal performance to EPS, and in some situations exceeds it, such as if product is left on a tarmac in the sun. The KoolPak has airline approval for up to 25 kg, which is 25% more than an equivalent sized polystyrene box, without the need for a single use plastic liner bag or single use restrictions.

Imperative for sustainability and environmental protection was to design a container that was capable of multiple use. The KoolPak is flat-packable making transportation and storage efficient and is designed to be re-used by the same user or re-assigned for rotational re-use. The KoolPak app uses block chain technology to track and trace each KoolPak from point of manufacture, through reuse and ultimately back to the recycler. Businesses can use this information to help achieve and validate their own sustainable development goals. To further build value and advantage for the user, we have developed and included a specialised passive NFC temperature sensor tag.

As fishers Kath and Tom know their target market is the seafood industry, but the KoolPak has significant application across a number of sectors that rely on efficient transport of perishable and temperature-sensitive products including agricultural and horticultural produce, meat and dairy produce, pharmaceutical products such as medicines and vaccines, chemicals and biological samples, e-commerce, confectionery and electronics and IT equipment.

For further information and Kath and Tom’s exciting innovations, please visit



Enabled by improving connectivity, new space capabilities and advances in machine learning and artificial intelligence the Blue Economy is increasingly recognised as a market of substantial opportunity. The UNCTAD estimate the Blue Economy to be worth in excess of $3Trillion USD a year and it is growing.

The question now musts be, how can those advances in technology come together with science and business to create sustainable economic growth and prosperity?!  In this webinar we will explore how oceanic data and advanced technologies can be leveraged to enable maritime businesses to sustainably embrace digital transformation and the future whilst helping to improve carbon emissions and drive cost reductions.
Join us as we speak with leading maritime experts including
  • Professor Alex Rogers, Rev Ocean’s Science Director,
  • Nick Lambert, Co-founder & Director, NLA International
  • Dr. Peter Collinson, Marine Robotics Specialist and former Global Environmental Response Expert at BP
  • Kiran Venkatesh, CEO & Co-founder, FrontM
  • Lisa Moore (HOST) – VP Commercial Product Management, FrontM
In this webinar you will learn about:
  • The strategic and oceanic operational barriers that need to be tackled to enable shipping companies to embrace the Connectivity, AI and Big Data Revolution
  • 5G, Satcoms and worldwide connectivity combined with the latest in computing power and advanced analytics – Has the future already arrived?
  • Which of the latest and greatest technology offers in the market are the ‘real deal’, and which ones may be overhyped? How can you tell?
  • How can maritime organisations of any size maximise big data connectivity capabilities to  reduce costs and sustainably improve efficiencies?

Join us at 13:00 (UTC+1) on 14 October 2020

Influence and drive sustainable, digital change in our new world by registering to participate for free here and join our global Live Webinar with FrontM to enter the worldwide discussion on the digitisation of the Blue Economy.

This week The Institute of Navigation (ION) will host the ION GNSS+ 2020 VIRTUAL Conference. Running through September 22 to 25, 2020. ION GNSS+ 2020 VIRTUAL is the 33rd international technical meeting of the Satellite Division of the Institute of Navigation.

ION GNSS+ 2020 VIRTUAL will be the largest virtual international gathering of leaders in GNSS and GNSS-related positioning, navigation and timing and is the year’s only opportunity to learn about new advances and the latest technologies, see the latest research and stay up-to-date on the status of GNSS systems and policy issues.

ION GNSS+ 2020 VIRTUAL will host:

  • Live streaming of all panel/keynote sessions each day
  • More than 300 technical sessions available on demand
  • Live streamed pre-conference tutorials (additional fee applies)
  • The Civil GPS Service Interface Committee meeting
  • Virtual exhibits

To catch up on the latest from MarRINav please join the session at 10:30 Central Daylight Time (CDT, UTC−5:00) 21 September. 

Plenary, Panel and Keynote Sessions

ION GNSS+ 2020 VIRTUAL will live stream the plenary and all panel keynote sessions through the virtual web platform. These sessions will also be recorded and uploaded for viewing at a later time. Interactive question and answer will take place virtually.


Technical Sessions

Individual technical presentations will be pre-recorded and uploaded with slides to the ION GNSS+ 2020 VIRTUAL site each morning for viewing at a later time. Attendees will have the option to submit questions to each presenter.


Exhibit Experience

ION GNSS+ 2020 VIRTUAL will feature industry partners in expanded exhibitor profiles that will allow attendees to review the latest GNSS and GNSS-related technologies and products and view product demonstration videos.


FREE Conference Registration for First-time Attendees*

The Institute of Navigation is offering FREE conference registrations for ION GNSS+ first-time attendees*. (*Some exclusions apply. See for details.)

To register for ION GNSS+ 2020 VIRTUAL, please visit

For more information on ION GNSS+ 2020 VIRTUAL, please email ION at or call +1-703-366-2723.


About ION

The Institute of Navigation is the world’s premier professional society advancing the art and science of positioning, navigation and timing (PNT). The Institute is a national organization whose membership spans worldwide. Additional information about the ION can be found at

The 2020 Virtual Island Summit kicked off today and runs through to September 13th.
The theme of ‘Sharing knowledge for resilient, sustainable and prosperous islands worldwide’ has obvious connections with the Blue Economy. Many island nations enjoy an area of sea space that far exceeds their land area, making the seas and oceans a crucial and valuable enabler to sustainable prosperity.

Organised by Island Innovation, the Summit is covers all of the United Nation’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals in addition to other topics relevant to island communities.

The free and entirely online event has been designed to connect global islands allowing them to share their common experiences through a digital platform.

To register for the free event and to join representatives of over 100 island communities from the Arctic, Europe, the Caribbean, the Indian Ocean, Pacific Islands, South America and beyond please follow the link below.

This month we have had the pleasure of reuniting with the team of Adventure Under Sail and their Tall Ship Pelican of London. Many readers will be aware of their mission to engage and inspire future generations of ocean advocates. We certainly believe that, for our oceans and Blue Economies to be sustained it is vital that we pass the baton on – sharing our own passion and experience so others can follow in our foot steps.

Since the end of July and through to the end of September the TS Pelican of London is providing an ocean science platform for the Darwin200’s UK Launch. Project leader, Stewart McPherson, was keen share  “In preparation of the Darwin200 global voyage, scheduled for 2021, we’ve embarked on a 59 day, UK-wide initiative that brings along ten new scientists to carry out a detailed science programme. We’re delivering a host of activities such as live lectures and citizen science project updates. These inspiring stories will engage the young crew as well as 1000s more young people across the UK to look at the health of the UK waters and better understand marine conservation.”

Ben Phan, a member of TS Pelican’s young Darwin200 crew, shared an enthusiastic review “My journey on board TS Pelican started just one week go but has already been an amazing experience. We saw seals and whales as we sailed north from Liverpool via Ireland’s Rathlin Island to Scotland. We’ve navigated through storm Francis and are now excited to sail around the Outer Hebrides and on to the magical St Kilda before heading east across the top of Scotland. It has been an eye opening experience so far and I look forward to many more adventures to come.”

You can track the journey of TS Pelican’s Darwin200 adventure here. We will be keeping up to date with ship and sharing news of their exploits over the coming weeks.



West Africa harbours ocean waters rich in pelagic and demersal species,[1] yet also intensely harvested. Many commercially significant stocks are either fully or overexploited, and vulnerable to illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing.[2] A significant proportion of industrial fishing activity is carried out by distant water fishing fleets, including those of the European Union, Russia, and China. Vessels belonging to these and other fleets have been associated with IUU fishing activities in the region, and documented cases may well be unrepresentative of the total number. Indeed, IUU fishing activities are often difficult to ascertain due to their secretive nature, and a lack of effective monitoring and surveillance capabilities in the region’s coastal States.[3] There is also a significant incidence of de-stabilising activities, particularly in certain areas of the Gulf of Guinea, including serious crimes such as piracy, armed robbery, and drug trafficking.[4] Fishing vessels can contribute to this de-stabilisation: IUU fishing has been shown to pose a threat, undermining the security of coastal States and their people, and exacerbating other security stressors.[5]

Transhipment and its association with IUU fishing and maritime crime

The complex relationship between the fishing industry and transnational maritime crime was highlighted in 2011 by UNODC, shedding light into the operational synergies that interconnect fishing operations, specially IUU fishing activities, and drugs trafficking and other forms of criminality.[6] The contribution that fishing vessels make towards drug trafficking globally has recently been estimated, suggesting that shipments on board of industrial fishing vessels average at 2.4 tonnes per seizure, with artisanal vessels averaging at circa 0.8 tonnes per seizure, but commanding higher prices. The stakes are high, and West Africa has been identified as one of the hotspots.[7]

Transhipment (nighttime). Image credit: Juan Vilata

Transhipment at sea gives vessels operational options, including the opportunity to relocate items away from the scrutiny of port authorities. Hence, transhipment is often an integral part of maritime crime.[8] Simply put, transhipment involves offloading cargo from one vessel to another. This can be fish, but also provisions or any other cargo, including crew. It is far from uncommon, especially in remote high seas, where it is particularly difficult to oversee. Significant investment in monitoring, control and surveillance (MCS) is often necessary to ensure that unauthorised transhipment and other IUU fishing operations are identified.[9]

The complexity of MCS needs should not be underestimated. The capacity levels that are often required are exemplified by the recent collaborative programme between EFCA and the States of the Sub-Regional Fisheries Commission (SRFC), through which a surveillance operation was undertaken. This involved not only VMS monitoring, but also the satellite and radar equipment of the European Copernicus service, as well as coordinate information exchange efforts of the national authorities of the SRFC member States.[10] Unfortunately, these special cooperation programmes are usually time-limited, and in routine scenarios national capabilities can and often do fall short of the technical capacity needed to address all IUU fishing activity successfully. Around the globe, countries concerned about their maritime security and the activation of their blue economies have invested in advanced satellite fisheries intelligence programmes.[11] Although States in West Africa are working towards increasing their capacity to fully implement effective MCS systems, they have not yet achieved the kind of MCS capacity that would enable them to control IUU fishing activities comprehensively and effectively.[12]

A game of smoke and mirrors

Although transhipment usually occurs between a fishing vessel and a refrigerated cargo vessel (often referred to as reefers), controls may be further complicated by the fact that other ships can also perform transhipment operations and other activities such as bunkering.[13] Of course, the non-compulsory nature of AIS, specially in waters where the presence of piracy and other violent crimes often justifies decisions to turn it off, means that effective monitoring via AIS alone can be very difficult. Nevertheless, erratic AIS readings can be indicative of activity that could form part of IUU operation patterns. For example, a vessel could disconnect AIS whilst moving toward safer waters where fishing vessels are known to be operating. It should be highlighted that such irregularities do not constitute evidence of wrongdoing per se, but they could be an indication of possible risk that an unauthorised transhipment is taking place. This is specially so in regions where IUU fishing transgressions involving transhipment are routinely documented.[14]

By way of example, recent research in the Indian Ocean has suggested that cases of unauthorised transhipment may be linked to bunkering activity. Though difficult to detect with conventional VMS and satellite automatic identification systems (AIS) controls, the researchers observed the presence of bunker vessels in the vicinity of fishing vessels and large factory trawlers, whose AIS signals suggested erratic behaviour, indicating the possibility of multiple re-supplying operations rather than fuelling.[15] Available AIS readings suggest that these scenarios are likely to be replicated in other regions, particularly in areas that continue to suffer from a high incidence of IUU fishing events, and where vessels able to perform bunkering as well as transhipment are present, such as West Africa.

Transhipment (daytime). Image credit: Juan Vilata

Recent research undertaken with satellite based AIS and satellite assisted radar in parts of the South East Atlantic managed by the Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT), comprising both the EEZ of Ascension Island and surrounding high seas areas, unveiled behaviour indicative of possible unauthorised fishing and transhipment and/or bunkering or supply, particularly around the EEZ borders, and especially by long liners.[16] Further, ICCAT records also indicate that transhipments are engaged into without adequate supervision, and that they may well be avoid inspection because fish and other cargo transfers are often impossible to differentiate from bunkering and supply operations.[17]

Further, as already stated, unauthorised transhipment is often an enabler to transnational maritime crime. Enquiry into the free online facility reveals that drug trafficking offences have been documented in the West African region, both across the high seas and the EEZs of a number of States, all occurring alongside a very high volume of unauthorised fishing activity across the region. These overlaps, coupled with unusual or unexplained AIS readings, suggest an operational risk profile that warrants significant control and monitoring effort, as well as the adoption of surveillance mechanisms to safeguard compliance.

The ICCAT management area. Image credit: ICCAT

Responsibilities of States with regard to transhipment

Under UNCLOS Part V, coastal States must ensure that fishing activities in their EEZ are appropriately managed (especially important are Articles 61 to 64 in this regard). As ITLOS highlighted in paragraph 113 of its Advisory Opinion, member States of the Sub-Regional Fisheries Commission must ensure that transhipments occur in specially designated harbours, amongst other requirements.

The responsibilities of flag States in the EEZ of coastal States were also discussed in detail by the ITLOS in its Advisory Opinion. In paragraph 114, ITLOS indicated that flag States must ensure compliance with the laws and regulations of the coastal States in which their vessels operate – this is of course not an optional matter or a courtesy: when it comes to fishing activities in the EEZs of coastal States, flag States have specific obligations under Articles 58.3 [“States shall have due regard to the rights and duties of the coastal State and shall comply with the laws and regulations adopted by the coastal State in accordance with the provisions of this Convention and other rules of international law (…)”] and 62.4 [“Nationals of other States fishing in the exclusive economic zone shall comply with the conservation measures and with the other terms and conditions established in the laws and regulations of the coastal State (…)”].[18]

Transhipment in West Africa. Image Credit: Richard White, Lindblad Expeditions

In addition, flag States have general obligations – see in particular UNCLOS Articles 94 concerning the exercise of effective jurisdiction and control over fishing vessels in the high seas, and Article 192 regarding the obligation to protect and preserve the marine environment in all ocean areas.[19] These responsibilities are refined and complemented by obligations established in other important international instruments.[20] Further, regional agreements frequently impose additional and often very specific duties. In the West African fishing grounds of the Atlantic the measures adopted by ICCAT should be complied with, so that the fishing and transhipment activities occurring in the area can be appropriately monitored.[21] Under ICCAT rules, only vessels that have been authorised to engage in transhipment can receive fishing products from fishing vessels lawfully operating in the regulated area.

Yet, ICCAT rules on the monitoring of transhipment is widely regarded as insufficient. In particular, whereas purse seiners carry 100% observer coverage when operating in the ICCAT area, long-liners are subjected to little scrutiny by comparison.[22] The ICCAT member States had an opportunity but failed to enhance their approach to monitoring in their latest (2019) meeting of the parties.[23] This has occurred against a backdrop in which historical VMS data is contributed to ICCAT by the relevant vessels’ flag States, but has been acknowledged as difficult to navigate and process in order to clarify compliance.[24]

Such voids in ensuring appropriate monitoring of transhipment, a high-risk operation for the purposes of IUU fishing and maritime crime, leaves significant opportunities for wrongdoing, particularly in an area where satellite MCS approaches are still in development and the EEZs of coastal states are vulnerable to unauthorised intrusion. This void in monitoring requirements also perpetuates a discrepancy in fishery conduct standards across different vessel types that is difficult to justify in an international decision-making forum with important management competences. Indeed, RFMOs such as ICCAT are key fora where States bring into effect their international obligation to cooperate in matters of conservation and management of transnational fish stocks. International cooperation is a responsibility that is not satisfied simply by ticking a box for attendance to meetings, but also requires a conduct that makes negotiation and ensuing decision-making meaningful.[25] Indeed, this is what to a great extent furnishes the regulatory output of RFMOs with an authoritative force, especially when it comes to considerations involving the characterisation of activities as IUU fishing, including the activities of non-members. Needless to say, this authoritative strength should not be undermined by maintaining necessary controls weak – least of all by the members themselves.

Republished with the kind permission of the author Dr. Mercedes Rosello July 2020  

The author would like to thank Dr. Dirk Siebels and Dr. Ife Sinachi Okafor-Yarwood for the provision of valuable information for the elaboration of this blog, as well as Dr. Dyhia Belhabib for facilitating free data via the Spyglass online platform, and Juan Vilata for access to photographic material. Any errors contained in this blog post are the author’s alone.

[1] J Alder, and UR Sumaila, ‘Western Africa; A Fish Basket of Europe Past and Present’ (2004) 13(2) The Journal of Environment & Development 156-178, 160.

[2] D Belhabib, UR Sumaila, and P Le Billon, ‘The fisheries of Africa: Exploitation, policy, and maritime security trends’ (2019) 101 Marine Policy 80-92, 81.

[3] I Okafor-Yarwood, and D Belhabib, ‘The duplicity of the European Union Common Fisheries Policy in third countries: Evidence from the Gulf of Guinea’ (2020) 184 Ocean and Coastal Management 1-11, 2.

[4] D Belhabib et al, page 86. See also D Siebels, ‘Pirates, smugglers and corrupt officials – maritime security in East and West Africa’ (2020) 1(1) International Journal of Maritime Crime & Security 34-49.

[5] I Okafor-Yarwood, ‘The cyclical nature of maritime security threats: illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing as a threat to human and national security in the Gulf of Guinea’ (2020) 13(2) African Security 116-146, 122.

[6] E De Coning, ‘Transnational Organized Crime in the Fishing Industry’ (UNODC, 2011).

[7] D Belhabib, P Le Billon, and DJ Wrathall, ‘Narco-Fish: Global fisheries and drug trafficking’ (2020) Fish and Fisheries, 1-16, 6.

[8] See I Chapsos, and S Hamilton, ‘Illegal fishing and fisheries crime as a transnational organized crime in Indonesia’ (2018) 22 Trends in Organized Crime 255-273.

[9] For more information on transhipment activities, see NA Miller et al, ‘Global Patterns of Transshipment Behavior’ (2018) Frontiers in Marine Science 240.

[10] See

[11] See for example

[12] Comfahat-Atlafco, ‘Workshop on Monitoring, Control and Surveillance: and effective tool to fight against IUU fishing’ (2015) 4.

[13] See for example:

[14] See

[15] JH Ford, B Bergseth, and C Wilcox, ‘Chasing the fish oil – Do bunker vessels hold the key to fisheries crime networks?’ (2018) Frontiers in Marine Science

[16] G Rowlands et al, ‘Satellite surveillance of fishing vessel activity in the Ascension Island

[17] ICCAT, Doc. No. COC-312/2019.

[18] ITLOS in Paragraph 111 of its Advisory Opinion refers broadly to ‘nationals’ rather than just vessels registered to the flag State [‘Advisory Opinion’].

[19] See Advisory Opinion from paragraphs 117 to 124, and 136.

[20] In particular, the UN Fish Stocks Agreement is a treaty of profound significance for the management of highly migratory and straddling species that occur partially in the EEZ.

[21] See

[22] See:

[23] See

[24] See M Ortiz, A Justel-Rubio, and A Parrilla, ‘Preliminary Analyses of the ICCAT VMS Data 2010-2011 to Identify Fishing Trip Behavior and Estimate Fishing Effort’ (2013) 69(1) Collect. Vol. Sci. Pap. ICCAT 462-481.

[25] M Hayashi, ‘The Management of Transboundary Fish Stocks under the LOS Convention’ (1993) 8(2) International Journal of Marine and Coastal Law 245-262, 252.

The Nippon Foundation – GEBCO Seabed 2030 Project launches study on the value of seabed mapping.

Our relationship with the seas and oceans is evolving rapidly. We have long understood the importance of protecting marine ecosystems. More recently, science has broadened our understanding of the important role the oceans play in regulating the Earth’s climate. The shape of the seabed is a crucial parameter for understanding ocean circulation patterns that distribute heat between the tropics and poles. Bathymetry data also supports detailed assessments of future sea-level rise, as well as tsunami and storm surge modelling to provide the basis for actions to protect coastal communities.

Now, many coastal states are beginning to apply in-depth analysis of how all marine and maritime interests can come together. Integrated ecologically sustainable plans to develop and maximise each nation’s Blue Economy – both to protect and benefit from their marine resources – are emerging at pace. That should come as no surprise when, globally, it’s estimated that the Blue Economy will be worth more than £2.3 trillion by 2030, supporting 40 million jobs. As well as quantifying traditionally important marine industries such as maritime transport and tourism, the key Blue Economy report from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) highlights offshore wind, fish processing, industrial marine aquaculture, port activities and industrial capture fisheries as the top five growth sectors.

At the top of that list, offshore renewable energy is hurtling from promising concept to a core element of many nations’ integrated energy planning. While, at present, over 80% of all offshore wind installations are located in the waters off the coasts of 11 European countries, more detailed plans are emerging across the globe.

While Japan only had a relatively small installed offshore wind power capacity of 66MW by the end of 2019, many more projects are also in the pipeline. In February 2020, plans were revealed to construct 33 new turbines in offshore wind farms at the Akita and Noshiro ports in the Akita prefecture. Japan’s high population density and topography present challenges for land-based renewable initiatives, but it does have a lot of coastline, which allows offshore wind farm projects to be significantly bigger than those that can be built onshore. Last year, the International Energy Agency commented that by 2040 offshore wind power alone has the potential to meet Japan’s total power demand nine-fold.

New horizons

To achieve such progress, the next frontier for the Japanese wind farm sector – as with all nations – will be to push further offshore. As much as 80% of the of the total potential for offshore wind power is estimated to be in deep waters, where winds are much more forceful. Japan is surrounded by deep seabeds, so has the potential to add significantly to the five floating turbines they currently possess. With the floating wind farm sector predicted to be worth £32bn by 2030, the race is on.

Other nations will be watching progress keenly. Indonesia’s electricity needs are predicted to grow by 7% annually until 2027, and its government has committed to providing 23% of all electricity generation from renewable sources by 2025 (from under 6% in 2015). Until now, offshore wind energy has not played a large part in Indonesia’s total renewable energy goals as its application is considered too expensive in the deep waters of the Indian Ocean. Floating wind has the potential to change that view – of great interest as the country boasts the third largest coastline and sixth largest Exclusive Economic Zone in the world.

At the macro level, the challenge for coastal nations is to align seemingly disparate marine and maritime sectors into a coherent and measurable whole. At the start of June, the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) for the first time quantified the total value of America’s marine economy. Including goods and services, it was estimated that America’s oceans and Great Lakes contributed approximately $373 billion to the nation’s gross domestic product in 2018 – thus growing faster than the nation’s economy as a whole. Aligned to this potential, the U.S. has committed to map its entire EEZ (the second largest in the world), aiming to map its deep waters by 2030 and nearshore waters by 2040.

Over in Asia, Bangladesh has recently established a forward-thinking Blue Economy Cell (BEC) to co-ordinate relevant activities across sectoral ministries. The country has a coastline 710km long and boasts 1.1 million square kilometres of Exclusive Economic Zone in the Bay of Bengal. Economists predict that the sustainable utilisation of these marine resources could enable an additional £1.12 billion in revenues annually. Such a return would help to propel Bangladesh from lower-middle-income country to middle-income status, as defined by the World Bank. The BEC has identified 29 relevant sectors – from cruise and coastal tourism to fisheries – providing a crucial platform for further cross-sector analysis and activity.

Planning for success

Such complexity is repeated across the world’s seaspaces, which are becoming increasingly congested. Modern, forward-looking marine spatial planning needs to factor in shipping lanes, fisheries, aquaculture, Marine Protected Areas, coastal tourism, the protection of marine cultural heritage and the roll-out of fibreoptic cables to feed a data-hungry world. Many factors will affect these sectors’ ability to plan ahead, but there’s no doubt that what they all need in order to establish planning certainty is an accurate, up-to-date map of the seabed, obtained using modern survey methods. Marine geospatial data is the cornerstone of the Blue Economy.

Some waters are relatively well charted; other nations are not so lucky, so are at an instant disadvantage in their ability to understand and sustainably manage their natural marine resource. Over 80% of the World Ocean remains unmapped with modern high-resolution map­ping technology.

The Nippon Foundation – GEBCO Seabed 2030 Project (Seabed 2030) was established to revolutionise the world’s understanding of the ocean floor. We want to catalyse policy decisions, sustainable actions and scientific research informed by detailed bathymetric information.

The project was launched officially by the Chairman of The Nippon Foundation at the UN Ocean Conference in 2017, with operational activity commencing in 2018. In time terms, therefore, we are now nearly a quarter of the way through our 13-year challenge of mapping the world’s seafloor by 2030. We have been hugely encouraged by the support we have received to date from the marine geospatial community. Advice, support and enthusiastic encouragement has been gratefully received. Donations of huge amounts of bathymetry data from commercial marine survey companies and marine institutes has been hugely welcome. The rapid establishment of one Global and four Regional Data Centres has strengthened co-ordination and collaboration potential.

With this infrastructure in place, it’s now time to really put the “Wind in the Sails” of our mission, and power towards producing the definitive, high res­olution bathymetric map of the entire ocean by the year 2030.

Innovation in action

Thankfully, all sections of the marine data collection sphere are bursting with amazing examples of innovation. Incredibly versatile autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) and autonomous surface vehicles (ASVs) are collecting digital data at depths and rates considered impossible even five years ago. Such seabed innovation is matched in the skies; satellites are now able to provide bathymetry quickly and cost-effectively in coastal areas with the right environmental conditions. The proliferation of data collection rates is only worthwhile, though, if useful analysis can be applied. Fortunately, developments in machine learning make it possible to process and analyse volumes of data that far outstrip any potential human endeavours.

However, in order to prioritise the appropriate utilisation of these technologies, as a community we need to challenge ourselves to develop a coherent, evidence-based analysis of the value of such endeavours.

A body of evidence already exists that supports the relationship between ocean floor shape and the processes and issues that are touched on above. That said, while much of this is open source, it is not all in one place. We started the Seabed 2030 project with a strong commitment to avoid duplication and instead work towards fostering a close collaboration for the most efficient use of global resources. In that spirit, we are launching a short piece of work with Blue Economy solutions company NLA International to start to gather this evidence together.

The more data we acquire about the details of seabed shape, the more we recognize that the ocean and its floor are more dynamic than we ever thought. By cataloguing models used to help quantify the environmental, social and economic values and benefits of seabed mapping, we will be in a much better position to articulate the areas in greatest need of being surveyed – and, crucially, why government, industry, academia and philanthropy should support such activity.

To contribute to the survey, please click here.

By Jamie McMichael-Phillips
Director, The Nippon Foundation – GEBCO Seabed 2030 Project

Webinar to discuss MarRINav project results

In 2018 the first-ever European Radionavigation Plan said “It is recognised that [..] GNSS should not be the sole source of PNT information. Alternative PNT systems, not necessarily using radio frequencies, should thus be put in place where the criticality of the application requires it.”One of the first fruits of this is the ESA-funded Maritime Resilience and Integrity of Navigation project, or MarRINav, recently completed by researchers in the United Kingdom.In 2019 the European Space Agency (ESA) published a permanent open call for proposals for positioning, navigation, and timing studies and systems, including those that had nothing to do with space.

“Maritime navigation and port operations are critical for almost every nation,” said Jonathan Turner, one of the MarRINav project team. “As an island nation with a strong maritime heritage, we in the United Kingdom perhaps have an even greater appreciation of this.” Turner is co-founder of the Blue Economy solutions company NLA International, which led a team of eight organisations cooperating on the project.

While MarRINav focused its analysis on the United Kingdom, the intent was to provide information, and an analysis framework, that could also be used by other nations.

Maritime is one of sectors most dependent upon Global Navigation Satellite Systems, according to the project reports, and one of the ones with the greatest awareness of GNSS vulnerabilities and their consequences. MarRINav concludes that integrity and resilience are two of the most important parameters for maritime navigation.

Maritime is also one of the sectors most ready to integrate space and terrestrial navigation systems, according to the report’s authors. The International Maritime Organization has already introduced a performance standard for a multi-system receiver, or MSR, that will incorporate a wide variety of navigation signals.

Despite the distractions of Brexit over the last four years, the United Kingdom has been particularly focused on its vulnerability to GNSS outages.

2017 London Economics report concluded that a five day GNSS outage would cost the nation at least $1.3B per day. It cited eLoran and Satelles as likely parts of the solution. The Government Office for Science released a Blackett Review of critical dependencies on GNSS in 2018.

In February of this year the UK government announced it was establishing a virtual National Timing Centre to protect the nation from the risk of GNSS failure, and in March the final MarRINav report was published.

Among the project’s findings are that:

  • The United Kingdom needs a comprehensive maritime PNT architecture with multiple, diverse sources to ensure continuity of maritime operations
  • Such a “hybrid solution” could benefit other sectors, especially if non-maritime needs were considered early in the design
  • New PNT systems should be terrestrial and sovereign
  • Establishing such a system for the UK has a very positive benefit to cost ratio
  • Important aspects of the new architecture are E-GNSS (Galileo and EGNOS), Enhanced Loran (eLoran) and the Ranging Mode (R-Mode) of the VHF Data Exchange System (VDES), and complemented by the development of a specific Maritime Receiver Autonomous Integrity Monitoring (M-RAIM) algorithm.
  • LOCATA or a similar local positioning system should be implemented at UK ports to provide a backup for container operations.
  • Satelles Satellite Time and Location may have potential, but its utility has yet to be demonstrated for maritime.

The Royal Institute of Navigation and the Resilient Navigation and Timing Foundation are partnering to present a Webinar about MarRINav on the 25th of June. Register here for “When GNSS Fails, What Will You Do? – MarRINav!”

All the MarRINav project reports are available.

As a voluntary association of 54 independent and equal sovereign states the Commonwealth includes nations around the globe. Over 30 of those states are small nations, many of them islands. With Commonwealth countries responsible for more than a third of the world’s coastal ocean and 45 percent of its coral reefs it is little wonder that developing a new tool to map coral is an area of focus.

The Commonwealth Secretariat is joining forces with Vulcan Inc. to help member countries manage their ocean spaces via cutting-edge mapping technology. The new tool will use satellite technology to create country-specific data and generate high-resolution images to help map, manage and monitor coral reefs in the Commonwealth.

Announcing the initiative in time for World Reef Awareness Day, 1 June, Secretary-General Patricia Scotland said: “The threats confronting our ocean are numerous and can be perceived by governments as overwhelming, with 90 percent of coral reefs at risk of disappearing within the next few decades due to climate change.

“That is why Commonwealth leaders launched the Commonwealth Blue Charter in 2018, which is a shared commitment from all 54 member countries to tackle urgent ocean issues together. Our partnership with Vulcan Inc, as well as others in the private sector, academia and science networks, will work to translate our vision into meaningful on-the-water actions.”

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Building on the technology behind Vulcan’s Allen Coral Atlas – a public platform that converts data from a range of sources to generate detailed maps, images and alerts on coral reefs – a dynamic interactive coral reef map will be hosted online on the Commonwealth Innovation Hub. The information it contains will support marine ecosystem planning, management, governance and community action in member countries.

Chuck Cooper, Managing Director of Government and Community Relations at Vulcan said: “We have already lost 50 per cent of the world’s coral reefs which support the safety, well-being, and economic security of hundreds of millions of people. The Allen Coral Atlas is helping to provide foundational data which inform critically important conservation efforts. Working with Commonwealth countries, we can change the trajectory of the coral reef crisis.”

The joint project will be unveiled with a special virtual presentation on World Oceans Day, 8 June. 

This event, titled ‘Mapping the Commonwealth one coral reef at a time,’ will also feature presentations from three Blue Charter Action groups, focusing on: Coral Reef Protection and Restoration, Ocean and Climate Change, and Mangrove Ecosystems and Livelihoods.

The Commonwealth Blue Charter is implemented by 10 country-driven action groups that share experiences and coordinate action to tackle ocean challenges. The presentations will highlight how the groups work together and the importance of accurate and live data to support management decisions.

Click here to complete your free registration to attend the event

For centuries, mariners have utilised myriad assets to navigate the world’s seas and oceans safely. Compasses, radar, echo sounders, Global Positioning System (GPS) receivers, signals, the ship’s whistle and the very skies above have all been used to navigate weather, geography and human factors to ensure safe passage.


Back in 2017 a concerned captain in the Black Sea faced a curious, but no longer, unusual problem. His navigation systems erroneously reported that he was 25 nautical miles away from his actual location. Thankfully, this potentially ruinous issue wasn’t exactly difficult to spot as the bridge equipment was attempting to convince the captain that he was actually at a land-based location near to Gelendyhik airport in Russia.


A simple case of faulty equipment? Not quite. It eventually became known that a further 20 vessels in the locale were receiving the same confusing information. As they would have used different GPS equipment, how could they all be witnessing the same anomalies?


The highly respected U.S non-profit the Resilient Navigation and Timing Foundation subsequently worked with maritime data and analytics company Windward Ltd. to explore the issue in greater depth. They diagnosed that the incident related to the intentional ‘spoofing’ of the GPS signal – someone had purposefully interfered with it to cause the system to provide incorrect location information.


Subsequent research in April 2019 by the Centre for Advanced Defense (C4AD) further underlined the prevalence of such disruptions, suggesting that 1,311 civilian ships had been affected in ten locations over the study period, with 9,883 individual incidents reported or detected, the majority of which took place in Crimea, the Black Sea, Syria and Russia.


Such possibilities present a severe threat to a system that is essential to seafarers of all types. Novel threats require novel approaches – so what to do to bring about new levels of systems-level resilience in marine navigation?


In January 2019 we began the MarRINav project, funded by the European Space Agency, we wanted to address the issues highlighted by previous work from the General Lighthouse Authorities of the United Kingdom and Ireland (GLA) and in documents such as the UK Government’s Blackett Report on GNSS Vulnerabilities and the London Economics report on UK economic impact of the loss of the GNSS. Our goal was to understand the position, navigation and timing needs of maritime operators, consider and analyse how current infrastructure met those needs and propose a credible solution to address any gaps in resilience or integrity.


From the earlier studies there were clear indications that many factors, including and in addition to spoofing, could have a substantial impact on many facets of life in the UK. A five day outage of GNSS in the UK could have an economic impact of as much as £5Bn with around 20% of that being directly related to maritime endeavours. Such figures are hardly surprising when you consider that 95% of goods are transported by sea and that some of the world’s busiest shipping routes pass through UK waters. Of course, shipping is just one slice of the maritime pie. The UK has seen an offshore wind generation capacity increase by a factor of eight over the past 10 years. Then there are considerations of the growth in aquaculture not to mention the appetite to explore and exploit the potential for autonomous vessels. UK sea space is busier than ever before and on a trend that shows increasing levels of traffic density, complexity and challenge.


The case for an in-depth review was clear, the MarRINav consortium was assembled and embarked on a journey of research and discovery that has revealed and documented a wealth of insights.


The first deliverable which qualified the maritime user need frames the whole project by describing the levels of accuracy, resilience and integrity that were required by a host of end users across a broad spectrum of marine, maritime and blue economy stakeholders.


Richard Greaves, MarRINav Project Director for NLA International commented: “As the UK EEZ gets busier and marine traffic relies more and more on technology, it’s essential that technology is itself reliable and failure risks are mitigated. Maritime operators must have confidence that their vessels are exactly where they think they are, and when. The MarRINav project has brought together experts from different disciplines and recommends an economic system-of-systems that will give them that confidence.”


Those maritime operator’s needs were analysed against current PNT infrastructure to assess and understand where there were opportunities to improve resilience and integrity. Deliverables two and three describe this work and the gaps and challenges that the current PNT infrastructure create across the maritime domain. This guided the project team thinking towards the technologies that could be applied, to varying degrees of success, in addressing those challenges. Deliverable four captured these technologies which, not limited to space based solutions, incorporated ship based systems, regional and wide area systems. Through this analysis it became clear that there was no silver bullet in a single system and that a system of systems would be required to best address all the challenges.


A conceptual architecture was produced within deliverable five with the integration of that architecture and an outline development plan to complement it in deliverables six and seven. This proposed solution was assessed by a cost benefit analysis which demonstrates a substantial and positive benefit to cost ratio, captured in deliverable eight.


The MarRINav project deals with both a complex and highly variable operating environment as well as a complex set of technologies, underpinned by rigorous scientific and mathematical analysis. To highlight the key points from the project and to make the outcomes accessible to widest possible audience deliverable nine along with several summary documents have also been produced.


All of the above deliverables and reports are available to view and download from the MarRINav website. 


The results in the MarRINav reports are now made publicly available and whilst they will inform a wide range of stakeholders, including UK Government, Deputy National Security Adviser, Department for Transport and the UK Space Agency, as well as the European Space Agency we also hope they will be a useful resource.


The MarRINav team will now move forwards to phase two of the project and test the viability of the solutions that have been proposed through the development and implementation of a testing and validation phase.