The Drone Zone
It’s all well and good establishing the world’s largest marine reserve but how do the authorities go about policing it, especially if it measures 834,000 sq km (322,000 sq miles), just like the zone established by the UK around the Pitcairn Islands in the Pacific? Luckily there is no need to send in the Royal Navy, as technology has the answer. Drones equipped with cameras to catch offenders in the act have been sent in to patrol the area and record any unauthorised trawlers. The data gathered is then fed into satellites to allow the authorities to pinpoint the location of any illegal trawlers which can then be prosecuted. The Wave Glider, as it is known, is made up of two separate drones: a surface craft packed with instruments and a submersible to which it is attached. And thanks to a self-propelling propulsion system, the Wave Glider can stay at sea for months at a time. The waters around the Pitcairns are home to 1,200 species of fish, an array of marine mammals and birds as well as the world’s deepest coral reef. So it’s easy to see why the UK created the marine reserve in 2015. Could drones bring about a sea change in the battle to save our oceans?