While many conservationists have been understandably focussing their efforts to protect the marine environment, few have given much thought to how they will be enforced. Likewise, policing is somehow not as catchy politically as a new MPA announcement. Perhaps it has simply been assumed that it is all under control.
In reality, surveillance and enforcement agencies find themselves with increasingly large and remote areas to be protected, often with reduced resources. The report below outlines some of the new and emerging technologies to keep track of what is happening on the water.
When we arranged the expert workshop on this topic, there was some initial distrust. The “cops” weren’t used to the attention, and weren’t used to talking to scientists and conservation advocates. But the ice soon thawed, and we all found that we had a lot more in common that we might have thought. Lawlessness and irresponsible behaviour on the seas hurt the law abiding, and us all.
The topic of SERMA does not stop at technical options, and will require still more work, looking into topics such as the overlap between environmental monitoring and human surveillance; enforcement considerations, and other approaches to encouraging compliance in remote locations. We are currently seeking funding to support these complementary topics and any suggestions are welcome!