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Enhancing governments’ presence at sea through the provision of low-cost intelligent technological solutions and local capacity building.

Illegal fishing is a major and growing concern for the protection of natural resources, food security and marine biodiversity. It has become a particular threat for Small Island Developing States (SIDS) whose economies heavily rely on fisheries. They struggle to monitor their vast Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZ), which threatens their capacity to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.

FishGuard is a new initiative that provides smart technological solutions to prevent illegal fishing in Coastal and Small Island Developing States (SIDS). This cooperative venture between Atlan Space, TMT and GRID-Arendal was initiated following a request to GRID-Arendal from the Government of the Republic of Seychelles to help identify a cost-efficient and innovative solution to monitor the country’s EEZ.

The potential benefits of FishGuard have already been recognised: In 2018, the FishGuard Partnership was selected as one of the three winners of the National Geographic Marine Protection Prize, aimed at promoting emerging technology and data collection solutions to effectively detect illegal fishing.

FishGuard strengthens national law enforcement by using modern crime detection tools. These include long-range drones armed with Artificial Intelligence (AI) to monitor large marine areas and short-range, manually controlled drones. It also takes advantage of satellites with optical and synthetic-aperture radar (SAR) remote sensing equipment, complemented by earth observation, automatic identification systems (AIS) and vessel monitoring systems (VMS). The integration of different kinds of data is what makes it possible to detect “dark targets” (unregistered vessels).

This smart approach is expected to prevent illegal activities and decrease the negative impact of illegal fishing on marine resources and the people who depend on them. Partners to the pilot project in the Seychelles have commented that the possibility of drone surveillance already seems to have a deterrence effect due to its presence in the region.

It is anticipated that demonstrating the cost-efficiency and effectiveness of the system through the pilot project in the Seychelles will pave the way for the solution to be used for other purposes (such as Marine Protected Area monitoring) and rolled-out in other countries where fisheries enforcement lacks a presence at sea. FishGuard is an innovative initiative that could also become a global tool for organized crime detection as it may be able to identify other illicit activities such as illegal extraction of natural resources, drug trafficking, or human trafficking.

Project partners

ATLAN Space, based in Morocco, develops a patented Artificial Intelligence based solution to guide networks of monitoring drones and provides technological support and training in FishGuard. Contact:

Trygg Mat Tracking (TMT)is a non-profit organization providing national fisheries authorities and international organisations with expert fisheries intelligence analysis and training, in support of enforcement actions and broader improvements in fisheries governance. Contact:  

GRID-Arendal, a UN Environment Collaborating Centre, serves as the link to UN agencies working on the environment. Contact:

Status: In progress

Type: Security

Programme: Environmental Crime

Tags: UAV Drone Seychelles


GRID-Arendal's activities are nearly always a cooperative undertaking made possible through collaboration with our various partners, and donors.

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