Bluebottles to sting illegal fishers in Australian Marine Parks
Uncrewed marine vessels known as Bluebottles are taking to the waters of Two Rocks and Jurien Marine Parks as the latest compliance measure being trialled in Australian Marine Parks.
Parks Australia is testing the efficacy of two uncrewed surface vessels through a short 30-day trial through January and February to capture 24/7 real-time imagery of activity in the two marine parks off the Western Australian coast.
The 22ft solar, wind and wave-powered Bluebottles developed by Australian company Ocius were launched from the Ocean Reef Boat Harbour in Western Australia. The vessels, which look similar to a small yacht, are equipped with 360-degree day/night infrared cameras, radar and satellite communications. They can autonomously monitor designated areas for months at a time.
The Bluebottles help Parks Australia better understand activity in the National Park Zones of Australian Marine Parks, where fishing is not allowed.
The innovative Bluebottle technology will allow Parks Australia to monitor marine vessel activity across these two important marine parks that have previously been difficult and costly to patrol.
These new surveillance measures help to protect the plants and animal species in the marine parks including Western Rock Lobsters.
The annual migration of the Western rock lobster from the coast to deeper waters known as the ‘whites run’ attracts thousands of licensed cray fishers who target this prized species. However, they cannot be fished from ‘no take’ zones as they pass through Australian Marine Parks.
To monitor on-water activities at the last migration event, two underwater recorders called sound traps were installed at Two Rocks Marine Park to provide valuable information on vessel activity in the park.
Drones with high resolution cameras are also being tested in no fishing zones of Australian Marine Parks to monitor marine vessel activity from the air.
Australian Marine Parks are special places and monitoring compliance breaches is essential to protect and conserve our rich marine life and biodiversity in these areas.
At Two Rocks Marine Park in the last financial year there have been 15 illegal recreational fishing incidents detected, with penalty infringement notices of $687 per incident and official warnings issued.
Suspicious or illegal activity in Australian Marine Parks can be reported to our hotline number – 1800 852 975 or email email@example.com.
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