As part of the global oceanic problem-solving community, we regularly look forward to see what’s coming, and measure success by the possibilities created by current accomplishments in ocean monitoring and sustainability. With the year coming to an end, it’s a great time to pause and celebrate present-day marine technology success, both from exactEarth, and the scientific community worldwide.
The world’s oceans cover more than a 70% of the Earth’s surface, and while we know quite a bit about them, rely on them heavily for travel and shipping, and respect their ecological importance, we have yet to truly harness their powers for communication. For all that we have worldwide communications, there are still untapped resources and isolated areas that would benefit from oceanic communication technology. The tides may soon be changing as scientists shore-up surefire ways to integrate communication technology into the fathoms below.
Earlier this year, exactEarth began operating the single largest AIS satellite constellation in the world. To emphasize the impact of that fact, we’d like to take you through a brief history of satellite technology. We know that satellite technology kick started to worldwide accolades with Sputnik I. With that singular launch of a satellite that was a metallic ball with a 58cm diameter, weighing 83.6kg, the real-life space age was born. In the 60 years that have followed, space technology has leapt to human space travel, and global communication the likes of which leave no end of the Earth unreachable. How did we get here so quickly? Through healthy competition and our love of multitasking.
How do you plot a safe course through a geographical area that changes rapidly, and dangerously? With S-AIS, of course. Maritime shipping routes through the Arctic have been a passionate discussion for centuries. Looking at a flat map of the world it’s easy to forget how close in proximity all northern countries are, but if you spin a globe and gaze down from an Arctic point of view, the distance doesn’t seem so vast. For any maritime vessel traveling through those frigid waters, ice is the number one problem. The ice that covers the Arctic is volatile; while historically it has always broken off in massive chunks to float freely and dangerously south, climate change has sped up that process, making it more challenging than ever in recent history to predict the appearance of ice flows and icebergs in waterways. Related, but a problem on its own, is that due to the restricted access explorers have had to the Arctic, topographical information is limited in comparison to most other global waterways. S-AIS can’t provide a picture of the landscape and depth of water in a traditional sense, but it can use historical data provided by the vessels that do wander through this path less traveled to create a more thorough picture.
North Atlantic right whales are magnificent creatures. Weighing in at approximately 79 tonnes, and measuring 15 metres in length, North Atlantic right whales have a natural life expectancy of 50 to 70 years. Females give birth for the first time around age 10. Gestation lasts a year, and newborn calves measure 4 metres in length. An endangered species, scientists estimate there are about 500 left in the world. And during the summer of 2017 – so far – 10 of them have been found dead in the Gulf of St. Lawrence along the eastern coast of Canada. They tend to dive deep to feed and resurface 20 minutes later. And this characteristic may be the reason for the most recent slew of deaths. Preliminary findings in the investigation suggest that, even if not cause of death, at least 2 of the whales likely collided with a ship at some point.
Fishing is a challenging industry to earn a living from. There are licenses to obtain, regulations to uphold, fishing seasons to follow, dwindling schools to hunt down, fierce competition, fluctuating markets, and illegal fishing to contend with. Not to mention the danger of a life spent on water, ever subject to her turbulent seas and moody weather. But, the world loves to eat fish, making it a hot international commodity. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) reports that over 3 billion people eat fish regularly. Communities of all sizes, locations, and development depend on fish and the fishing industry nutritionally and economically. In 2016 the FAO reported that an estimated 56.6 million people worldwide work in fishing industries – both fish farming and open water fishing – with 36% of those employed full time. Estimated at 4.6 million in 2014, that’s a lot of fishing boats on the water.
Every angler knows what their daily catch limit is whether they’re standing on a dock at the cottage or heading out to sea with a crew. There’s a fish for every season, and a season for every fish. The laws protecting some bodies of water prohibit gas motors, while others require that a vessel be thoroughly decontaminated before entering. Laws and regulations like these are in place to protect the environment at large, to support the specific needs of individual ecosystems, and to ensure fishing sustainability globally and for populations whose food sources are dependent upon fishing. And we would be remiss not to point out that 70% of the Earth’s surface is covered by water. The adherence to these regulations, no matter where you fish, is vital to our planet, which is why international lawmakers are cracking down on illegal fishing in a big way.
Satellite communication overall is a wonder, and Iridium® has made that wonder a reality and, in the very near future, a source of infinite possibility. The revolutionary Iridium NEXT constellation is bringing futuristic fantasies to life with technology’s best and brightest international partnerships to ensure incredible communication applications worldwide.
Nor-Shipping, the top maritime shipping exhibition and conference in the world, drew an incredible global audience to Oslo this past week. This year at the exhibition, discussions focused on advanced technology for very-near-future increased efficiencies and smart shipping, but also jumped ahead to start to plan for autonomous ships and remote fleet navigation. This push for technologically advanced ship design comes with good timing as the IMO continues to strengthen emissions regulations causing ship builders the world over to open designs to great possibilities.
Maritime shipping has existed as an industry since the first people constructed a boat way back in prehistoric times; fleet management as a profession wasn’t far behind. After all someone had to keep track of strangers from foreign lands and the treasures they brought. In many ways fleet management protocols and technology have come a long way, but you may be surprised to learn that certain aspects of fleet management ring true in the present day maritime shipping industry.
Topics: fleet management