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Free Content Conservation science and policy applications of the marine vessel Automatic Identification System (AIS)—a review

The continued development of maritime transportation around the world, and increased recognition of the direct and indirect impacts of vessel activities to marine resources, has prompted interest in better understanding vessel operations and their effects on the environment. Such an understanding has been facilitated by Automatic Identification Systems (AIS), a mandatory vessel communication and navigational safety system that was adopted by the International Maritime Organization in 2000 for use in collision avoidance, coastal surveillance, and traffic management. AIS is an effective tool for accomplishing navigational safety goals, and by doing so, can provide critical pre-emptive maritime safety benefits, but also provides a data opportunity with which to understand and help mitigate the impacts of maritime traffic on the marine environment and wildlife. However, AIS was not designed with research or conservation planning in mind, leading to significant challenges in fully benefiting from use of the data for these purposes. We review present experiences using AIS data for strategic conservation applications, and then focus on efforts to ensure archived and real-time AIS data for key variables reflect the best available science (of known limitations and biases). We finish with a suite of recommendations for users of the data and for policy makers.

Document Type: Review Article

Publication date: January 1, 2016

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  • The Bulletin of Marine Science is dedicated to the dissemination of high quality research from the world's oceans. All aspects of marine science are treated by the Bulletin of Marine Science, including papers in marine biology, biological oceanography, fisheries, marine affairs, applied marine physics, marine geology and geophysics, marine and atmospheric chemistry, and meteorology and physical oceanography.
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