On Thursday May 31st, Sea Shepherd Galapagos officially handed over the infrastructure for the Automatic Identification System (AIS) to the Galapagos National Park Service.
The AIS infrastructure consists of nine repeater sites and two control centers. The control centers, which are located on two different islands, are linked together by a wireless bridge to facilitate the transfer of the substantial data stream.
The total value of the hardware, logistics and installation of this donation is about $870,000
The equipment was handed over with ample documentation and continued support for the coming years.
Having the AIS infrastructure in place is the first step in this project, which will be followed by getting all the vessels operating within the Galapagos Marine Reserve (GMR), equipped with AIS transmitters. Sea Shepherd Galapagos will contribute to the purchase of AIS devices for the local artisanal fishing vessels.
The AIS network will make control of the GMR more efficient and it will show illegal vessel movement. It will also improve safety of all vessels, their crew and passengers inside the GMR.
The Galapagos AIS network is unique in its kind; it is the first time that this technology will be used to monitor all vessel movement in an area. AIS is normally only used for large commercial vessels. Sea Shepherd believes that AIS could be a tool used by authorities worldwide to greatly improve the safety and control of all vessels inside Marine Protected Areas.
We have already started negotiations concerning other National Parks in the region and aim to use the experiences from Galapagos to improve the protection of these delicate ecosystems.
This project would have not been possible without the generous support of the Dutch Postcode Lottery
Many thanks to the Galapagos staff, Malena and Hugo for their tremendous effort and special thanks to AIS project manager Marcel Wensveen. Marcel not only was the driving force behind the execution of the project, he also assured the costs were kept at an absolute minimum.