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Drones ready to hunt illegal driftnets

With just a couple of weeks left before The Black Fish start its work the Mediterranean in search of illegal driftnets, final preparations for the campaign are now well underway; checks on boats, fixing equipment, sourcing donations and test flying a new fleet of drones, which will, for the first time ever, be able to effectively monitor areas of sea from the skies. In its drone operations The Black Fish has partnered with ShadowView, an organisation dedicated to developing cutting edge technology to aid conservation and humanitarian work.

In the case of illegal fishing, the development of drones is a boost to existing efforts to halt criminal activity that is threatening the oceans. The world’s oceans are in peril. Illegal fishing operations are threatening increasing numbers of species and enforcement of international conservation laws often lacks or is completely non-existent. The use of driftnets in the Mediterranean Sea kills thousands of whales, dolphins, sharks and fish every year. Even though this damaging fishing practice was outlawed by the United Nations in 1992, an estimated 500 ships continue to flaunt the rules. The Black Fish and ShadowView will start a new campaign this summer, to seek and expose these destructive and illegal activities.

The aim of the campaign is to increase effective monitoring of the illegal driftnet fishing fleets that operate in the Mediterranean Sea, using inspection teams on land, boat crews at sea and drones in the sky. The Black Fish is keen to take further action beyond just investigating but also aware that the scale of the problem – and exact locations of illegal driftnet ships – need to be documented thoroughly first, before further effective action can be planned.

To support the campaign, you now have the chance to contribute to our donation appeal. The more money that can be raised, the longer The Black Fish will be able to stay out in the field, hunting for the illegal fishing vessels and documenting their every move. Please help us in our mission to protect the fragile ocean from illegal fishing. Give to the appeal now at http://www.theblackfish.org/appeal

As part of the final campaign preparations, ShadowView spent the day at Chobham Park in Surrey, UK, this weekend. Test flying the various drones that will be actively used in the driftnet campaign, the capability of both the OpenRanger fixed wing and new multi rotor UAV drones were demonstrated. An ITV news crew was on location, filming for an upcoming news feature on the issue of illegal driftnets and the new innovative approaches ShadowView and The Black Fish are developing to halt it.

Be sure to follow The Black Fish’s Facebook page and Twitter feed over the coming weeks for updates on the campaign. If you wish to be involved in our efforts more actively, please help by sharing our appeal and see what different roles new volunteers can take on at our get involved pages.

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