About this course

This course is the first of a series within the Building Capacity programme of the NEREUS project funded by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Ocean Innovation Challenge (https://oceaninnovationchallenge.org/).

The NEREUS project, led by the Surrey Space Centre in collaboration with the Mauritius Research and Innovation Council, is developing a tool for the detection of anomalies in satellite data that could be related directly to Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing activities. The satellite data that will be used in the project will mainly be Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) data and self-reporting data like the Automatic Identification System (AIS) data.

Examples of the outputs of the monitoring tool will be products identifying areas where ships frequently do not report their presence over some period of time. This information can be used by authorities to make informed decisions and contribute towards effective Maritime Domain Awareness. When this information will be further combined with ancillary data, like borders of Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZ) and Marine Protected Areas (MPAs), record of authorized fishing vessels etc., the products can support the detection of IUU fishing activities with obvious environmental, economic and societal benefits for local communities.

By the end of the NEREUS project it would be of the utmost importance to have in Mauritius people trained to the use of satellite data and to the monitoring tool so that benefits can continue beyond the duration of the project. At this purpose, 3 courses will be run by the Surrey Space Centre to build such capacity.

Who is the training for? The training is for anyone interested in Remote Sensing and Earth Observation, with particular application to the maritime domain. Local authorities, universities, research centres, UNDP offices and everyone responsible for safety at sea, ocean health, law enforcement, maritime policies, EEZ and MPAs preservation is invited to register.

The NEREUS project is gender-sensitive and implements a participatory approach inspired by gender equality in which women are fully beneficiaries of the project as much as men. This applies to the training part as well and we encourage and support women participation.

We encourage the largest possible participation but, should we require to limit attendance for logistic reasons, we would prioritize attendees from areas and organizations directly involved with the Nereus project.

What will the training cover? The training will provide an introduction to modern satellite radar imagery and interpretation, including distortions and artefacts typical of such space data. Ship detection with Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) images will constitute the core of the training and will be presented using open-source data from the Copernicus constellation and the SNAP software.

What are the benefits for me in attending? By attending you will learn about the most advanced space technologies and techniques to monitor some of the Earth resources, in particular the oceans. The training will be shaped around the problem of Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated fishing activities and how space data can help detecting such activities. It will benefit a diverse audience with the common imperative goal of saving our oceans. For example, if your work, research or interests are related to the monitoring of fishing activities and checking of vessels compliance, you would get an understanding about how such monitoring can be carried out more efficiently with space data. If your work is in preservation of oceans and fish species, you will have an opportunity to understand the positive environmental impact that Earth Observation can bring as with a persistent monitoring of EEZ and MPAs we can discourage illegal fishing and restore fish stocks.

What is required to attend the training? Since the training will be delivered online you will need internet connection and a workstation to attend. In order for us to reach you and share the link to the platform being used for the training delivery, we would need you to register for the training on Eventbrite. All registered attendees will receive a Zoom link to attend the online course.

Does the training have a cost? The training will be completely free to attend. You can decide to attend it in part or in total, as it fits you.

Can I feedback on the quality of the training received? We would require all attendees to complete a pre-training questionnaire before the date of the training. You will receive a link to the pre-training questionnaire following your registration. We will propose the same questionnaire at the end of the training to measure its effectiveness and your learning.


Mauritius Research and Innovation Council (MRIC) is collaborating with the Surrey Space Center (SSC), University of Surrey, UK, on a project titled: “NEREUS – A Space-Based Maritime Surveillance System for Fisheries Monitoring and Anomaly Detection” supported by the United Nations Development Programme’s (UNDP) Ocean Innovation Challenge.

In 2022, the UNDP announced the second cohort of Ocean Innovators selected internationally for their proposed solutions to accelerate progress towards the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 14, with particular emphasis on sustainable fisheries and blue economy threatened by Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing. The NEREUS project proposed by the SSC in partnership with the MRIC was selected as one of the Ocean Innovators in June 2022.

The Republic of Mauritius has a vast Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of 2.4 million square kilometers. The Blue Economy represents 15% of the country’s GDP and fishing is a major contributor. However, this economy is threatened by IUU fishing. Hence, monitoring maritime activity is of utmost importance for the Republic of Mauritius. However, to build maritime surveillance solutions that offer accurate, timely, and actionable insights, we need the right data.

The NEREUS project will use remote sensing imagery and data such as Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) and Automatic Identification System (AIS), sourced from a wide network of collaborators and in-kind contributing partners including the UK Space Agency, JAXA, Capella Space, Satellite VU and the Ministry of Blue Economy, Marine Resources, Fisheries and Shipping of the Republic of Mauritius. These data will be processed using machine learning approaches to derive a near-real time footprint of fishing vessels adopting ‘abnormal’ behavior in the EEZ of the Republic of Mauritius. The application will also provide a method of classification of fishing vessels and include anomaly detection techniques based on machine learning with characteristics of automation and high scalability to the rest of the world.

NEREUS aspires to be a very potent tool to consolidate the measures set in place by the Republic of Mauritius to tackle Illegal, unregulated, and unreported (IUU) fishing to thereby contributing to the Sustainable Development Goal 14 – Life below water.

Specific Objectives of NEREUS are:

  1. Quantification of the extent of legal and Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing in the Mauritius EEZ and MPAs and evaluate its economic impact.
  2. Improvement of the support to the local government in stopping IUU activities in the EEZ and prosecuting responsible parties
  3. Support of the restoration of marine life and fish stocks in the Mauritius EEZ.
  4. Development of an understanding and support for the economic recovery from fishery practices in Mauritius.

In view of soliciting the engagement of local stakeholders, a workshop is being organized on the 16th of January 2023. These stakeholders include representatives of, the Ministry of Information Technology, Communication and Innovation, the Ministry of Blue Economy, public and private sector fisheries and shipping stakeholders, academia, Officers of the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family Welfare among others.

The outcomes of this innovative prediction tool that will be developed from this project would be shared with the Mauritian Authorities as an additional tool to consolidate our existing measures for combating IUU in our territorial waters.

Pictures of Event

Presentation slides of Speakers at NEREUS workshop