Live satellite surveillance demonstration

News · ALEXANDRA (New Zealand), BRAMPTON (Ontario), RENNES (France) · 21 April 2022

Starboard, MDA and Unseenlabs to host live satellite surveillance demonstration targeting illegal fishing

Starboard Maritime Intelligence, MDA Ltd. and Unseenlabs are collaborating on a live demonstration of satellite surveillance technology to take place at the Indo Pacific 2022 International Maritime Exposition being held May 10 – 12 in Sydney, Australia.

The operation – dubbed 18c – will focus on uncovering illegal fishing for southern bluefin tuna and will show how technology can help both fisheries and intelligence analysts navigate the increasingly rich and complex data available to them.

“We know intelligence teams are excited about the possibilities of fusing data from multiple space-based sensors and using machine learning to support their work, but it can sometimes be hard to take that step into operationalising these opportunities” says Heather Deacon, Business Development Manager for Starboard. “We want to give a behind the scenes look into how this can work and to do this operation 18c will include over seven sources of data.”

The live demonstration will cover the planning, tasking and analysis of vessel detections from both synthetic aperture radar (SAR) and radio frequency (RF) satellite data. This will be combined with automatic identification system (AIS) data and supplemented with fishing registers, vessel ownership information and environmental data.

“Through this operation with Starboard and MDA, we want to demonstrate the power of multi-data and how merging different data sources actually improves maritime situational awareness in a fast and clear way” says Clément Galic, CEO and Co-founder of Unseenlabs. “RF data brings a new insight and we’re delighted to make this live demonstration to show the added value that it can bring to public and private actors in the maritime fields.”

MDA’s RADARSAT-2 satellite is the most capable SAR satellite for maritime surveillance in orbit today, providing C-Band radar coverage optimized for maritime surveillance. RADARSAT-2 provides 20 different imaging beam modes with many beam modes designed specifically for maritime surveillance. These maritime surveillance beam modes are able to cover hundreds of thousands of square kilometres of the open sea/ocean in a single pass.

Understanding satellite overpasses is key to operation 18c. This example shows satellite trajectory and sensor coverage from both Unseenlabs (B4 and B5) and MDA (R2) alongside those that collect real-time AIS (orbits in cyan).

Unseenlabs, MDA and Starboard Maritime Intelligence will all be attending the 2022 Indo Pacific Maritime Exposition in Australia. “We are so pleased to be able to travel outside of New Zealand again and take our product to this international audience,” says Deacon.

The three space-based data technology companies have global experience in fisheries surveillance. Their customers include the Australian Fisheries Management Authority and the Pacific Islands Fisheries Forum Agency.

The live demonstration held at the expo will also be available online with daily updates provided on social media. Registrations are open to anyone who is interested in following the progress of operation 18c.

Space data continues to offer opportunities for maritime protection and the market is growing in both analytics maturity and the volume of information – AIS data alone produces around 35 million ship positions each day.

Operation 18c is now complete, take a look at our operation page which was updated twice daily from 2-13 May 2022→

About Starboard Maritime Intelligence

Starboard tackles complex maritime domain awareness challenges, ranging from detecting illegal fishing and risk assessing arriving vessels to validating vessel movements and uncovering non-reporting dark vessels.

Xerra and Starboard have been established with funding from the New Zealand Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE). Learn more about Starboard.

About MDA

Serving the world from its Canadian home and global offices, MDA (TSX:MDA) is an international space mission partner and a robotics, satellite systems and geointelligence pioneer with a 50-year story of firsts on and above the Earth. With over 2,400 staff across Canada, the US and the UK, MDA is a leading partner in the pursuit of viable Moon colonies, enhanced Earth observation, communication in a hyper-connected world, and more. MDA has a track record of making space ambitions come true, and enables highly skilled people to continually push boundaries, tackle big challenges, and imagine solutions that inspire and endure to change the world for the better, on the ground and in the stars. For more information about the Company, please visit

About Unseenlabs

Unseenlabs operates its own constellation of radio-frequencies mono-satellites to detect and characterize – with unique coverage and accuracy – the passive electromagnetic signature of any ship (cooperative or not), anytime (day or night), anywhere on the globe, regardless of weather conditions.

Unseenlabs produces Space-based RF data, providing a new type of insights and filling the gaps of other maritime surveillance sources, to help maritime stakeholders to better monitor maritime traffic, improve security and environmental protection in their maritime areas of interest (trade route, marine protected area, EEZ). Learn more about Unseenlabs.

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In May 2020 Starboard set out to provide an enhanced picture of southern bluefin tuna fisheries in the Tasman Sea. Combining real-time AIS with vessel detections by satellite for surveillance in this area of interest.

Read case study →


In May 2020 Starboard set out to provide an enhanced picture of southern bluefin tuna fisheries in the Tasman Sea. Combining real-time AIS with vessel detections by satellite for surveillance in this area of interest.

Read case study →


Amongst the millions of ship positions, how can we find movements that are not normal? How can we find anomalous movements leading to the discovery of vessels that might be noteworthy and need further investigation?

Read case study →