Inmarsat and Cobham SATCOM have been awarded a new contract to connect 732 fishing vessels active in the Maldives Economic Exclusion Zone to Inmarsat’s Fleet One maritime broadband services. Cobham’s SAILOR Fleet One utilises the existing Inmarsat-4 satellite constellation to deliver voice calling and internet connectivity.
The go-ahead follows trials of Fleet One services and SAILOR Fleet One terminals from Cobham aboard 15 boats for a new vessel monitoring system (VMS) under the Maldives’ Sustainable Fisheries Resources Development Project to improve Monitoring, Control and Surveillance in fisheries sector. The VMS project, agreed between Maldives-based Ooredoo and the Ministry of Fisheries and Agriculture, is funded by the World Bank.
The five-year contract envisages the supply and maintenance of the VMS, to include Fleet One satellite communications over L-band from Inmarsat, airtime and secure communications server via Integrated Monitoring (IM) and SAILOR antennas from Cobham SATCOM installed by Ooredoo.
Fisheries is one of the main economic activities in the Maldives, second only to tourism, providing jobs to over 30% of the population. Launched in 2017, the Sustainable Fisheries Resource Development Project was followed in 2019 by The Maldives Fisheries Act, which bans several forms of unsustainable fishing gear such as purse seine, trawl nets and gills nets and envisages granting licenses only to vessels offering real time tracking and those that are registered only in the Maldives. Fleet One will support electronic catch documentation and traceability (eCDT) to combat Illegal, Unregulated and Unreported (IUU) fishing. The Fisheries Act also formalises fishermen entitlements to pensions, training and connectivity to emergency services.
“The VMS project confirms the leadership role that the Maldives continues to play in sustainable fishing and in sustaining the blue economy long-term,” said Maldives Fisheries Minister Zaha Waheed. ”It puts the maritime broadband infrastructure in place to monitor and manage operations, but also to support the welfare of those working at sea. In doing so, we have chosen technology that is reliable, scalable, progressive, cost efficient and easy to use, and a group of partners with the track records to instil confidence. Successful implementation of the project would also mean that Maldives fulfil and go beyond the requirements established through the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC),” she said.
Najib Khan, Ooredoo Maldives, Managing Director & Chief Executive Officer, said: “We placed high importance in onboarding partners that share our values of bringing new socio-economic progress to societies through innovative technologies. The Fleet One Vessel Monitoring System ensures seamless monitoring of fishing vessels for owners and the regulator, and enables new opportunities for the crew, while assuring their safety onboard. We look forward to seeing the progression of the fisheries industry in the Maldives, supported by this project.”
Eric Griffin, VP of Offshore and Fishing, Inmarsat Maritime said: “This is another significant government-level endorsement of Fleet One’s reliability as a vessel monitoring system platform that will also deliver extensive benefits for welfare and operational efficiency in a price-sensitive market. The platform can also provide safety add-ons such as weather monitoring and I expect word of mouth to play a significant role where data service uptake is concerned. Instant messaging will initially drive greater use as crew that are out of range of terrestrial networks stay in touch with friends and family or exchange information on fishing stocks.”
Meenal Rao, Regional Sales Manager APAC Maritime at Cobham SATCOM, said: “The Ministry shares our aspiration to protect and enhance the sustainability of the marine environment, and we’re pleased to be able to support the Maldives’ fishing fleet in achieving this through providing connectivity that will enable each vessel to protect, monitor, and enhance the rapidly changing marine environment.”
Jeff Douglas, Chief Executive Officer, Integrated Monitoring, commented: “The scope of this project will resonate wherever fisheries administrations seek progress on sustainability and crew welfare at scale and in an integrated way. Fleet One is over twenty times faster than traditional Vessel Monitoring Systems. For the first time, it will support crew chat, mobile banking and live video monitoring to the small and mid-sized fisheries segment.”
Integrated Monitoring is also providing Monitor – a cloud hosted platform for GPS Tracking, Catch Reporting and Electronic Video Monitoring – to the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries for use within their Fisheries Monitoring Center in Malé.