Satellites reveal 75% of world's industrial fishing vessels are 'hidden

There are a lot of reasons that ships are not tracked.

In the particular cases of fishing vessels, even if they are registered and fishing legally in designated waters, they are still in competition with other legal vessels doing the same thing. So, if they think that they have specific knowledge of a "hot spot" to make a big catch, they are usually interested in getting there and doing their fishing without anybody else knowing where they are catching so many fish. Turning off their AIS is just "normal" behavior.

Add to that the rich who don't want to be tracked, the ships dodging all the "sanctions" imposed on various international trades, naval vessels that don't want to be tracked by "the other guys" and the actual pirates, it is no wonder that 75% of the ship traffic is not on the tracking channels.

So, I think this satellite visual tracking capability is a good way to get a handle on not only how much of some activities are occurring, but also who is doing them. It might sound like "Big Brother in the Sky", but it is also like "The Wild West" on the water at this point.
RF location works when RF is being used. But, the Japanese have already demonstrated that you can avoid using RF at sea even with large numbers of large ships, way back in 1941.

So, "situational awareness" needs lots of diverse capabilities to be robust.

And, considering that NASA has now demonstrated laser communication over long distances, it may become even harder to detect signals between vessels, satellites, etc. as the laser technology gets into commercial uses.

Which brings up the point about detecting extraterrestrials: if they have advanced to using pinpoint-to-pinpoint communication with lasers, would we have any way of knowing they were nearby? Maybe SETI is looking for technology that would be "ancient" to any species that has the technology to get to us from where they originated.
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