Title: JRC-Frontex Spaceborne SAR Small Boat Detection Campaign – Italy & Spain
Publisher: Publications Office of the European Union
Publication Year: 2011
JRC N°: JRC67517
ISBN: 978-92-79-22213-9
ISSN: 1831-9424
Other Identifiers: EUR 25065 EN
URI: http://publications.jrc.ec.europa.eu/repository/handle/JRC67517
DOI: 10.2788/1727
Type: EUR - Scientific and Technical Research Reports
Abstract: The European maritime area is one of Europe’s most important assets with regard to resources, security and ultimately prosperity of the Member States. A significant part of Europe’s economy relies directly or indirectly on it. It is not just the shipping or fisheries industries and their related activities. It is also shipbuilding and ports, marine equipment and offshore energy, maritime and coastal tourism, aquaculture, submarine telecommunications, blue biotech and the protection of the marine environment. The European maritime area faces several risks and threats posed by unlawful activities, such as drugs trafficking, smuggling, illegal immigration, organised crime and terrorism. Piracy in international waters also constitutes a threat to Europe since it can disrupt the maritime transport chain. These risks and threats can endanger human lives, marine resources and the environment, as well as significantly disrupt the transport chain and global and local security. It is anticipated that these risks and threats will endure in the mid and long run. In order to keep Europe as a world leader in the global maritime economy, an effective integrated/interoperable, sustainable maritime surveillance system and situational awareness are needed. A significant number of unlawful maritime activities, such as illegal immigration, drugs trafficking, smuggling, piracy and terrorism involve mainly small boats, because small boats are faster and more difficult to detect using conventional means. Hence, it is very important to find out the feasibility of using SAR Satellite images for small boat detection. This report describes the results of the JRC/Frontex joint spaceborne SAR maritime surveillance campaign aimed at small boat detection in Sardinia-Italy and Palomares Canyon-Spain. The relatively reduced amount of data collected and analysed does not allow drawing final conclusions about the feasibility of using SAR Satellites for small boat detection. But the trial has given some indications. A SAR image acquired over the beach of Porto Canale suggests that it is feasible to detect small boats (>6m) on land (e.g. beach). However, further detection campaigns are needed before final conclusions can be drawn. Concerning the trials on open sea, in none of the eight SAR images a detection was found exactly at the reported test boat position. However, based on a more accommodating but reasonable analysis of the uncertainties in the trials, a detection score of 30-50 % for the small boats is indicated, with calm sea conditions needed for positive detection.
JRC Directorate:Space, Security and Migration

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