Saving The Sea

Finding and stopping illegal fishing vessels in Economic Exclusion Zones

1 Ratings

Imagine that you are a fisherman living in an area where other boats are illegally overfishing. You have the difficult task of making a living in waters where the natural stocks have been dangerously depleted. Your livelihood and the economy of your country is at stake. By preventing and fighting illegal fishing, Sea Dragon can keep your country financially stable and your family fed.


The problem is enforcement. It is incredibly difficult to locate, apprehend, and prosecute illegal fishers in offshore areas. Where there isn't accountability, fishing laws aren't followed. In the Western Pacific region, Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated (IUU) fishing is a billion dollar problem that threatens marine ecosystems and sustainable fisheries. Economic Exclusion Zones are ocean areas where a state has special rights over the natural resources it contains, including fish and other wildlife. Illegal fishing within these areas violates conservation and management measures such as tuna quotas and undermines the economies of coalition partners. The annual economic loss due to IUU fishing has been estimated to fall between $10 billion and $23 billion each year, but the environmental cost to marine ecosystems is immeasurable.


Nations with Economic Exclusion Zones need a low-cost airborne platform to identify and document unlicensed fishing vessels so they can better enforce maritime laws and prosecute illegal fishers. Without the Sea Dragon, Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated (IUU) fishing will continue to immeasurably damage the ecologies and economies of our seaside coalition partners. There is currently no single solution which can detect, identify and report IUU fishing violators back to enforcement authorities.


Technology Service Corporation partnered with the Air Force Research Lab to develop the Sea Dragon, an airborne maritime tracking system that uniquely locates and documents illegal fishing. The Sea Dragon is a necessary tool for enforcement of fishing laws. It helps to ensure that IUU fishers can be prosecuted, protecting our oceans from greater environmental and economic harm.

"Modifying war assets for marine protection is a creative and cost-effective strategy. DoD leadership, foreign governments, and marine conservation groups have all shown interest in the Sea Dragon. " — Steve Kilberg


Sea Dragon utilizes a low-cost commercial aircraft (Cessna 337) and a Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) for wide-area surveillance and discrimination of licensed and unlicensed vessels. The system displays an overlay on the radar screen of active Vehicle Monitoring System (VMS) beacon tracks. The operator identifies a “dark target” from the SAR returns that have no correlated VMS signal and the aircraft is vectored over that target for visual identification and activity determination with an EO/IR system. Sea Dragon then uses a high-resolution video camera to generate the documentation of illegal fishing activities required to support prosecution in international courts. This information is sent over satellite communication to enforcement authorities.


Enforcement of fishing laws and evidence-based prosecution of illegal fishers will improve the quality of life for the entire planet, including service members.

Sea Dragon is a major airborne payload integration project for Technology Service Corporation. Performing on this task has provided valuable experience in technical, testing, and program management for this type of program.

After a successful demonstration in the summer of 2014 in the Western Pacific, the system will be marketed to several nations and agencies which will positively contribute to US balance of payments. The Sea Dragon capabilities can be extended to other areas of concern such as smuggling, insurgency operations, and border security.

This is a great example of taking systems developed for war and transitioning them to support on-going security needs of the U.S. and our allies. — Maurice Martin, DR-IV, Sea Dragon Program Manager

Technology Service Corporation

Silver Spring, MD

Technology Service Corporation (TSC) is an employee owned, high-technology Company primarily engaged in providing engineering services to the US Government. These services involve support of systems throughout their life cycles from advanced concept development through operational support.

Steven Kilberg Steven Kilberg

Steven Kilberg

Director of Technology

Josh Gullett Josh Gullett

Josh Gullett

Systems Engineer

Matt Prenatt Matt Prenatt

Matt Prenatt

Program Coordinator


Ph II - Support Jammer Cueing: Sea/Sand Dragon Payload Demo Program; Ph III – Modular C3ISR Mission Payloads for Unmanned Aerial Systems




Phase II Contract No. FA8650-10-C-1711, Phase III Contract No. FA8650-11-C-7187

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