High-tech game changer

A tech company established by four young Namibians envisages using a unique type of technology to tackle illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing in our territorial waters.

30 November 2021 | Technology

STAFF REPORTER

WALVIS BAY

Dove Air Technology is negotiating with the ministry of fisheries and marine resources to tackle illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing in Namibia’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) using long range unmanned aerial drones paired with artificial intelligence.

“We will be doing this by providing both efficient and cost-effective data collection and monitoring solutions for fisheries management, which will assist and enable the ministry to meet its legislative objectives.

“There will be no financial obligations to the ministry during the proposed pilot phase as the company has committed to absorb all costs as part of our investment,” explains Quintin Simon, a founder member and partner of Dove Air Technology Namibia.

The Namibian company is attached to Dove Air International, a cooperation engagement partner with the United Nations (UN) for marine patrols across nine countries, as well as drone aid delivery.

The company was founded by Francisco Serra-Martins, a Forbes 30 under 30 Honoree in consumer technology. Serra-Martins is also a member of Angel Investment, a movement which supports non-profit organisations worldwide.

“What caught my attention is that Dove Technology offers affordable and low-maintenance alternatives and solutions which yield exceptional results in several areas and industries of concern,” said Simon.

One such area is the trade in IUU fishing, with estimates indicating that the country loses nearly N$1.5 billion in revenue due to this practice. Overfishing, transhipping, flying flags of convenience, the turning off AIS signals and border-hopping by illegal fishing vessels operating are commonly experienced in Namibian waters.

There are 203 fishing vessels licensed in the Namibian EZZ, of which 80% are Namibian owned.

“Safeguarding Namibian fisheries resources requires a fast response, simple operation, convenient maintenance, low operation cost and no personnel security risks when covering the entire 540 000 square kilometres of our EEZ over the shortest period of time possible to meet marine security law enforcement requirements.”

Simon emphasises that this technology needs to be seen as an addition and complementing current mitigation measure deployed by the ministry in the fight against IUU fishing.

For Africa, by Africa

Simon met Francisco at a business opportunity and became intrigued by the products Dave Air Technology develops and its work involving the use of long-distance drone technology to combat several problematic areas worldwide.

He explains that the drones are manufactured and assembled in Johannesburg, South Africa.

“As part of the company’s strategic vision, we are planning to establish a Technology and Innovation Hub in Namibia which will focus mainly on assembling unmanned aerial drones.”

This move will create new avenues of employment.

“A revenue opportunity of more than R2.3 billion has been approximated in South Africa, including more than 33 800 jobs. It is imperative that we as Namibians anticipate the needs of the labour market and the economic development of our communities by attracting investment in industries and services of the future.”

Tried and tested

According to Simon, the unique value proposition of the Dove Air drone is that it has an exceptionally long range of 800 km and a flight time of 12 hours.

It can also carry a payload of up to 19 kg and can be used for delivering items to the most remote destinations.

“Another exceptional added future of this technology is that it can operate day and night with the use of high-definition cameras capable of taking visual footage at day and night using its thermal and infrared imaging systems to capture high-quality livestream data and sharing it with headquarters, which assures a 24-hour operating capacity.”

The cameras have an optical zoom capacity of up to 30 times, allowing for clear image and video capturing of subjects or assets being monitored, capturing the most detailed features of said subject for example registration numbers /ports registration details / vessel names/ IMO numbers of vessels and transmitting these details to headquarters for review.

The Dove Air drone can land and be dispatched in any area or from a patrolling vessel.

Simon highlights that this technology is already tried and tested in countries such as Sierra Leone and Mozambique.

“Its application in these areas is supported by internationally renowned organisations such Unicef, USAID and the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime.”

The collected data gets transferred on deployment to headquarters via a C2 Link within 200 km. If the drone surpasses 200 km, Satcom is utilised for transmission of data with a 1-1.5 seconds latency delay on the live feed.”

Top secret

Simon understands and acknowledge the importance of storage and transmission of data captured during operations.

“Hence we are providing several secure options for storage and segregation of data which can be managed internally by the end user or by Dove Air Technology and their high-tech military grade servers. This aspect is recognised the Geneva Centre of Security Policy.”

Far-reaching benefits

Simon is convinced that this technology can have far-reaching benefits for the country and its people.

“There are also several other identified opportunities beyond fishing patrolling operations. The drone can be utilised to do border patrols. It can be deployed for general observations in national parks and to strengthen conservation and antipoaching efforts due to its long range and flight time.”

Another possibility is to use the technology for delivering aid or vaccines to the most remote areas of the country.

“This will give people accessibility to essential medicines, vaccines and even learning materials,” Simon concluded.

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