RADARSAT Constellation Mission - Maritime Surveillance and Response


Fisheries and Oceans Canada and the Canadian Coast Guard are proud to be a part of the RADARSAT Constellation Mission. RCM’s frequent visits to Canada’s entire landmass, marine and coastal waters will provide  high-quality information to improve  maritime surveillance and emergency response capabilities, and increase security of Canada’s marine resources.

Here are some of the ways the data from these satellites will be used by the Department:

Combatting Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated fishing

Illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing costs the world economy billions of dollars every year. It devastates marine environments, threatens fragile fish stocks worldwide, and undermines the livelihoods of legitimate fish harvesters, both in Canada and abroad.

The data from these satellites will help Canada in the fight against IUU fishing by allowing our fishery officers to identify and track vessels in near real-time. Identification of vessels is instrumental to stopping illegal fishing activities and holding owners to account.

Canada’s leadership in earth observation technologies will also allow us to further support small island developing states in their fight against IUU fishing. These developing states have some of the most vulnerable waters for IUU fishing, and need support from other nations to keep illegal fishing at bay.

Surveillance of Canada’s marine protected areas

Canada’s marine protected areas (MPAs) protect sensitive or important aquatic species, habitats and features. They play an important role in the marine ecosystem by protecting biodiversity and strengthening ecosystems' abilities to recover from disturbances, such as overfishing.

The RADARSAT Constellation Mission will help guide surveillance of activities in Canada’s MPAs to ensure that prohibited activities that compromise an area’s conservation objective are not occurring.

Navigation through sea ice

The Canadian Coast Guard provides icebreaking, escort, and ice management services to support the safe and efficient movement of people and goods across Canadian waters. Icebreaking plays a key role in public safety, preventing or breaking up ice jams to prevent flooding. The Coast Guard uses ice patrols, live cameras in strategic locations, and satellite imagery to assess ice conditions and mobilize vessels and assets in the right areas.

The data from these satellites will be critical to Canadian Coast Guard’s ice breaking operations with near real-time information on ice quantity, density and strength. This will help ensure safer passage through our waters, and allow the Coast Guard to strategically position its icebreakers to cover the most critical areas to assist ships as needed.

Emergency response

Pollution of our waters poses grave danger to marine life, including coral reefs, fish, dolphins, whales and birds. The Coast Guard’s environmental response program coordinates national and regional responses to spills from ships or unknown sources and minimize the impacts of marine pollution in Canadian waters on public safety, the economy and the environment.

The RADARSAT Constellation Mission will help the Canadian Coast Guard’s response efforts by locating potential spills as they happen. It will also predict the path of pollution as it drifts along ocean current by using a map of marine wind directions derived from radar images.

Safe navigation

The RADARSAT Constellation Mission will help the Canadian Hydrographic Service ensure that navigational products are kept up to date by providing useful imagery of shorelines, intertidal zones and help monitor coastal erosion in dynamic areas.

June 2019

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