Kenya, Seychelles Test New Software to Help Fight Piracy

New software developed by the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC) is being tested in two maritime operational centres in Kenya and the Seychelles to help fight piracy and improve maritime security.

The software provides a live picture of ship traffic activity, indicating current ship positions on a digital map. By combining data from a number of different vessel reporting and earth observation systems, it creates a single maritime picture of the entire western Indian Ocean.

This region-wide picture complements the smaller scale coastal one used by individual countries, and can be used also to combat illegal fishing or immigration. The tool furthermore allows producing maps showing past piracy events or historic ship traffic density.

Known as the Piracy, Maritime Awareness and Risks (PMAR) system, it is the result of a three-year study carried out by JRC researchers into technologies intended to build up maritime awareness for authorities in regions affected by piracy.

The study was originally initiated following a request of the European Parliament. The first phase led to an invitation from the piracy-affected states for a continuation. This one year trial will help to improve the maritime surveillance capabilities in this area, taking into account existing infrastructures as well as considering the specific needs of the concerned countries and with their full collaboration.

Maritime awareness and maritime security research are key pillars of the recently adopted EU Maritime Security Strategy (June 2014) which is a European response to threats and risks in the global maritime domain. The trial implementation of the PMAR system is financed through the 10th European Development Fund under the EU’s programme to promote regional maritime security (MASE) in eastern and southern Africa. It is managed by the Indian Ocean Commission, an international cooperation between the five island states Madagascar, Mauritius, Seychelles, Comoros and RĂ©union.

The project is aligned with the IMO’s (International Maritime Organization) Djibouti code of conduct concerning the repression of piracy, and complements other EU and international initiatives on capacity building in the region.

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Press release, Image: European Commission, Joint Research Centre