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Data initiative sets sights on tackling global ocean challenges

NOAA, Vulcan Skylight enter into public-private partnership
UPDATED: September 24, 2020. Skylight is characterized as a maritime information tool.
September 17, 2020 Today, NOAA announced a new pilot program with Vulcan Inc. to utilize Skylight, a maritime information tool developed to address Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing activities.
IUU fishing practices hurt law-abiding fishermen, damage the economy, and threaten our food security.

Under this contractual agreement, Skylight will be used to provide data solutions that may help NOAA Fisheries and its partners identify potential IUU fishing activities.

IUU fishing is an internationally recognized problem that has far-reaching consequences for national security, global economies and marine fisheries. In addition to helping to identify IUU fishing activities, this partnership calls for the development of potential approaches to increase the use of maritime domain awareness that support the protection and conservation of North Atlantic right whales, an endangered large whale species with only about 400 remaining. Entanglement in fishing gear and vessel strikes are the leading causes of right whale mortality.

An analyst investigates a potential transshipment alert by Skylight.
Skylight maritime information tool
An analyst investigates a potential transshipment alert by Skylight. (Vulcan, Inc.)

“NOAA scientists from across the country will work with the Vulcan team on the use of data systems to help tackle some of the biggest challenges facing our Blue Economy,” said retired Navy Rear Admiral Tim Gallaudet, Ph.D., assistant secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and deputy NOAA administrator. “When U.S. science and technology agencies and leading private sector firms work together, we can achieve great success in tackling real-world challenges while also fostering innovative approaches.”

Seattle-based Vulcan Inc. developed the Skylight system as part of its philanthropic ocean portfolio and is working with partners across the globe to tackle one of the leading drivers of ocean decline and threat to a sustained food supply. Skylight leverages artificial intelligence and machine learning algorithms to identify suspicious activity, cutting through the noise, helping authorities to focus investigations and determine proper action.

Utilizing artificial intelligence is also a strategy of NOAA, to reduce the cost of data processing, and to provide higher quality and more scientific products and services for societal benefits.

"It is very gratifying to partner with organizations such as NOAA. Together, we can make a difference and create impact towards reducing IUU," said Ted Schmitt, Principal Program Officer for Skylight. "Vulcan developed this maritime awareness tool as part of our philanthropic portfolio to specifically address one of the greatest drivers of ocean health decline. This pilot program with NOAA is a great example of how public-private partnerships have the potential to leverage technology to change that trajectory."

NOAA and the Skylight team will spend the next 3 to 6 months exploring additional opportunities that could potentially help augment how the agency addresses these marine resource issues.

NOAA has entered into numerous public-private partnerships, including with Caladan Oceanic, OceanX, Ocean Infinity and Viking Cruises.

Learn more about NOAA and Vulcan Inc.’s ongoing collaborations.

Read more about NOAA and the federal maritime security team tasked to support the American blue economy.

Media contact
John Ewald, (240) 429-6127
Also, Vulcan Inc. Press Office