Source: Science Daily
In a high-tech plan to enforce marine protection laws in Belize, the Belize Fisheries Department has begun a monitoring program using “conservation drones.” The first of its kind, the program aims to put an end to illegal fishing around reef systems such as Glover’s Reef Marine Reserve, part of the outermost boundary of the Belize Barrier Reef.
The government’s unmanned aerial vehicles, which are being deployed with technical assistance from the Wildlife Conservation Society, are capable of taking high-resolution photographs and video, have a range of over 50 kilometers, and can fly autonomously for more than an hour. Once a drone has located a fishing vessel operating illegally, patrol vessels can be sent out to investigate in an effective manner. The drone program has been under test since July last year, and became fully operational in early June.
Dr. Caleb McClennen, Executive Director of WCS Marine Conservation, described the novel plan as “an exciting pilot program for Belize, the wider Caribbean, and nearshore marine parks and fisheries around the world.”
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