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Marine Electronics & Communications

Marine Electronics & Communications

Fishing vessel catches the benefits from Inmarsat L-band

Thu 10 Aug 2017 by Martyn Wingrove

Fishing vessel catches the benefits from Inmarsat L-band
Satlink installed the Fleet One 32 cm diameter antenna on trawler Rinchador

Fleet One enables Spanish fishing company Vidiña Pesca to negotiate catch prices, use online applications, download weather forecasts and comply with EU reporting requirements

Fishing vessel owner Vidiña Pesca, which operates close to one of the world’s busiest fishing ports, deployed Inmarsat’s Fleet One satellite communications to enable online applications, efficient routeing and remaining compliant with European fishing regulations. It enhanced vessel connectivity and halved its monthly airtime costs by using the service.

The company operates out of the port town Riveira near the fishing terminus of Vigo in northern Spain, which is home to the European Fisheries Control Agency. Company owner Manuel Laranga Sanles said the satellite connectivity is required for internet, email and speaking to fish buyers at local markets.

Fleet One was installed by Spanish distributor Satlink on 28 m trawler Rinchador in February this year. Since then, Capt Sanles has used the coastal service for downloading weather forecasts, uploading catch information and negotiating deals on catches by contacting the market before returning to port. He said satellite connectivity is indispensable because marine radio and cellular networks do not have the range and reliability when sailing in the North Atlantic.

Vidiña Pesca wanted a flexible and cost-effective solution for seasonal, low-data users. “We were looking for a terminal with enough bandwidth but with a lower monthly fee,” Capt Sanles explained. Reliability of the network was also important, which was why he chose Inmarsat’s L-band coverage.

Constant connectivity allows him to meet EU fisheries’ control regulations that require vessels to report catch, landing, sales and transhipment data. This is done through the electronic recording and reporting system (ERS), a key element of which is the electronic logbook where the master of a fishing vessel keeps a record of fishing operations. The record is then sent to national authorities, which store the information in a secure database. ERS rules state that a daily catch estimate must be transmitted before a vessel docks.

Vidiña Pesca halved its monthly airtime bill by having Fleet One prepaid plans that minimised the use of mobile phone network roaming charges. Satlink installed the 32 cm diameter antenna and compact below-deck unit of Fleet One. This took two hours and enabled Capt Sanles to instantly connect to the internet for applications including voyage planning. The vessel owner commented on the advantages of using the local distributor. “Satlink is always available should I need support, with a technical service distributor network all along the Spanish coast if I need spares,” he said.

"Relieving the isolation so often felt by seafarers is a key benefit of improved satellite communications"

Fleet One is used by crew of Rinchador to contact family and friends when outside coastal mobile networks. Satlink regional sales manager Javier Andrés Lois said a built-in WiFi device enables seafarers to use their own smartphones and other mobile devices over a satellite link protected by a firewall. “Relieving the isolation so often felt by seafarers is a key benefit of improved satellite communications,” he said.

Mr Lois also explained that Fleet One has safety communications functions, including Inmarsat’s 505 distress calling service that directly links to a Maritime Rescue and Coordination Centre, which would organise response groups in an emergency.

Fleet One is Inmarsat’s entry-level satellite communications service. It delivers simultaneous voice and IP data at up to 100 kbps to vessels when they move outside medium and high-frequency radio and mobile phone coverage. The commercial L-band service is delivered using Inmarsat I-4 satellites. Inmarsat said the Fleet One coastal service is available to vessels under 500 gt in key coastal regions. It does not commit owners to lengthy contracts and enables occasional users to suspend services when vessels are temporarily laid up.

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