Journal of Coastal Conservation

, Volume 17, Issue 1, pp 105–119 | Cite as

Comparing interactive and automated mapping systems for supporting fisheries enforcement activities—a case study on vessel monitoring systems (VMS)

  • René A. Enguehard
  • Rodolphe Devillers
  • Orland Hoeber


The conservation of wild fisheries resources in the face of an ever-increasing world demand for seafood requires the use of a number of management tools, including no-take zones, and gear, species, and temporal restrictions. One way of enforcing some of these regulations is through the use of Vessel Monitoring System (VMS) data that provides enforcement officers with the position of fishing vessels in the management area. The increasing volume of movement data collected using VMS calls for new methods that could help analysts extract useful knowledge from these large data sets. Various approaches have been proposed for visualizing and exploring movement data and detecting patterns within these data, but those approaches have generally not been tested in a real-world context or compared together, making their actual usability and utility unclear. This paper describes, compares, and assesses three such approaches in the context of fisheries enforcement: an existing system used for fisheries enforcement operations in Canada (VUE), a novel Hybrid Spatio-temporal Filtering (HSF) system developed by the authors, and an automated Behavioural Change Point Analysis (BCPA) system. A field trial was conducted with experienced fisheries enforcement officers to compare and contrast the benefits and drawbacks of the three approaches. While all three presented advantages and disadvantages, the interactivity of VUE and HSF were identified as desirable features, as they provide analysts with more control over the data, while allowing flexible data exploration. BCPA, while providing an automated approach to the data analysis, was pointed out as being too much of a “black box”, causing unease among the experts who require a level of transparency similar to that of legally admissible evidence. In the end, the experts suggested that the best approach would be to merge the analytical power of their existing VUE system with the exploratory power of the HSF system. This study provides insight into the value of using interactive mapping and filtering approaches in support of data analysis in the context of fisheries enforcement.


Fisheries enforcement Vessel monitoring system VMS Movement analysis Visualization Geovisual analytics 



The authors would like to thank the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) for the funding of this project through the Strategic Projects Grant STPGP 365189–08, and the Canadian Foundation for Innovation (CFI) and Memorial University of Newfoundland for providing the laboratory infrastructure. We also would like to thank Fisheries and Oceans Canada, and especially Jerry Black and Trevor Fradsham and their groups, for their collaboration and having provided access to the data, as well as the fisheries enforcement officers who participated in this study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • René A. Enguehard
    • 1
  • Rodolphe Devillers
    • 1
    • 2
  • Orland Hoeber
    • 3
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of GeographyMemorial University of NewfoundlandSt. John’sCanada
  2. 2.ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reefs StudiesJames Cook UniversityTownsvilleAustralia
  3. 3.Department of Computer ScienceUniversity of ReginaReginaCanada
  4. 4.Department of Computer ScienceMemorial University of NewfoundlandSt. John’sCanada

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