By Bernadette H. Carreon

Palau will be the first country to test the new state-of-the-art radar system to help spot and catch illegal fishing boats in its territorial waters, according to President Tommy Remengesau,  Jr.

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Remengesau said Microsoft Corp. co-founder Paul Allen, concerned about illegal fishing depleting global fish populations, will spend $40 million to develop a system that uses satellite imagery and data-analysis software to help countries reign in illegal, unregistered, and unregulated (IUU) fishing boats depleting ocean fisheries.

“It will be implemented by December but the system should be up and running next year,” Remengesau said in a press conference  Oct. 11. Remengesau also added that it will in operation for the next three years.

Allen announced the initiative in the sidelines of the “Our Oceans” conference in Malta Oct. 6.

Called SkyLight, the system uses technology to aid enforcement, particularly in countries with thousands of miles of coastline to patrol and few resources to do so.

Palau which has declared 80% of its exclusive economic zone off-limits to fishing is facing a huge task of providing effective monitoring and surveillance of an area the size of France.

According to news reports, SkyLight, which will be available in the first half of next year, takes multiple data sources from satellite images, to shipping records to information manually collected by officials standing on docks, and uses machine learning software to track and predict which vessels might be operating illegally. [/restrict]