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Automatic Identification Systems (AIS) are a standard feature of ocean-going vessels, designed to allow vessels to notify each other of their position and route, to reduce collisions. Increasingly, the system is being used to monitor vessels remotely, particularly with the advent of satellite receivers. One fundamental problem with AIS transmission is the issue of gaps in transmissions. Gaps occur for three basic reasons: 1) saturation of the system in locations with high vessel density; 2) poor quality transmissions due to equipment on the vessel or receiver; and 3) intentional disabling of AIS transmitters. Resolving which of these mechanisms is responsible for generating gaps in transmissions from a given vessel is a critical task in using AIS to remotely monitor vessels. Moreover, separating saturation and equipment issues from intentional disabling is a key issue, as intentional disabling is a useful risk factor in predicting illicit behaviors such as illegal fishing. We describe a spatial statistical model developed to identify gaps in AIS transmission, which allows calculation of the probability that a given gap is due to intentional disabling. The model we developed successfully identifies high risk gaps in the test case example in the Arafura Sea. Simulations support that the model is sensitive to frequent gaps as short as one hour. Results in this case study area indicate expected high risk vessels were ranked highly for risk of intentional disabling of AIS transmitters. We discuss our findings in the context of improving enforcement opportunities to reduce illicit activities at sea.
This article was published in the following journal.
Name: PloS one
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