// EUROPE // SWEDEN

From Sailing Races to Securing Supply Chains from Illegal Fishing

Onboard monitoring technology works with fishing fleets and insurance companies to make our oceans more transparent

By Ariella Knight

It all started when someone sank the professor’s boat. Somewhere between 1999 and 2000, thieves broke into his unattended vessel that was left at port during the winter, made off with the engine and scuttled the ship to the bottom of the harbor. The frustrated professor was left wondering how he could protect his vessel from thieves in the future, particularly when the marina was hours away from his house and the vessel would be stationed there for months at a time. Thus the idea of a remote vessel monitoring product came to light.

While the case of who sank the professor’s boat has run cold, the technology that developed out of this incident has not. C-Pod, a remote vessel monitoring device produced by C Security Systems, emerged in a heroic attempt to deter bad guys and protect boats, acting as an alarm system that allows boat owners to keep an eye on their boats remotely.

ENRIC SALA/Courtesy of National Geographic Society
C-Pod, for the first time, brought near-live updates right to the computer screens of eager spectators.

Off to the Races

C-Pod entered the world stage with a splash when it was chosen as the official technology for the world famous Volvo Ocean Race in 2000. This early iteration of the technology resembled a “smart box” of sorts, installed on each vessel to automatically relay information such as vessel location, speed and wind speed back to onlookers, updating every ten minutes. Referred to as the “big brother” of the race, C-Pod, for the first time, brought near-live updates right to the computer screens of eager spectators. 

Participation in the Volvo Ocean Race created “a lot of buzz” about the product, said Managing Director Magnus Söderberg, and provided the momentum to take it to market. 

ENRIC SALA/Courtesy of National Geographic Society
What started as a box that sent basic information back to users, the new and improved C-Pod is now an advanced remote management tool for boat owners fully loaded with upgrades such as fleet management and the ability to turn equipment on and off the boat remotely.

Finding its Mark 

Over the course of the last fifteen years since the race, much has changed. What started as a box that sent basic information back to users, the new and improved C-Pod is now an advanced remote management tool for boat owners fully loaded with upgrades such as fleet management and the ability to turn equipment on and off the boat remotely. So how is this relevant to combatting illegal fishing and safeguarding marine protected areas you ask?

Interestingly, while C Security Systems initially targeted the recreational boating market – both for basic monitoring against theft and for tracking fun events like sailing races – it turns out that fishing fleet managers, insurance providers, and port security managers showed the most interest in the product. “Since its entry into the market, C-Pod has moved from business to business as we learn where the needs are,” explained Söderberg.  As it turns out, the need for C-Pod is greatest for those charged with making sure vessels toe the line and do not engage in any illegal activity at sea.

ENRIC SALA/Courtesy of National Geographic Society
As it turns out, the need for C-Pod is greatest for those charged with making sure vessels toe the line and do not engage in any illegal activity at sea.

Keeping Fishing Fleets Honest

In early 2011, C Security Systems was approached by a Portuguese fishing company that needed to secure its supply chain. Despite MPA laws and company regulations, the company had few means of making sure that its boats were not fishing in restricted waters. Aware of the public scandal that can ensue when commercial companies are found to be profiteering from illegal catch, the company reached out to C Security Systems to help make the activities of its fleet more transparent.

C Security Systems worked with the company to design geofences, virtual fences around a given area that, when breached by vessels with linked technology, send alerts back to authorities. C-Pod set up geofences around MPAs off the coast of Portugal to monitor for vessel incursions, and then fit every vessel in the fleet with C-Pod technology that was programmed with the GPS of these invisible fences. Every time a boat entered the prohibited areas, the home office received an alert. Even if boats were too far from shore to send live updates, C-Pod’s memory stores all GPS locations and sends them to authorities as soon as possible, letting the company know after the fact which vessels had acted illegally and which hauls needed to be inspected for illegally caught fish.

The real beauty of C-pod is in its power to deter illegal activity. The presence of monitoring technology, with the promise by the company to hold fishermen to account, reduces the likelihood of engagement in illegal fishing in the first place. C-Pod has proven to be an agile tool to help the private sector secure their supply chains against illegal fishing and do their part in protecting MPAs. 

ENRIC SALA/Courtesy of National Geographic Society
C-Pod has proven to be an agile tool to help the private sector secure their supply chains against illegal fishing and do their part in protecting MPAs.

Claims Department, Please

In addition to its value to fishing fleets, C-Pod is also experiencing a breakthrough in the maritime insurance market. Private insurance has a big role to play in setting standards and best practices to ensure compliance. By incentivizing boats to provide additional information on location and activities, for example, insurance actors can raise standards for overall transparency on our seas.

This is exactly the “win-win deal” that C Security Systems struck with Russian insurance company OSK earlier this year. OSK now requires that boats purchase C-Pod technology, which, at $400 for hardware plus annual subscription fees, is affordable for most and in turn reduces premiums. This partnership is helping create a growing corps of “good ocean actors” that will eventually make our seas more transparent to spot the bad ones.

ENRIC SALA/Courtesy of National Geographic Society
This partnership is helping create a growing corps of “good ocean actors” that will eventually make our seas more transparent to spot the bad ones.

All Ears

When asked what was his greatest lesson learned has been from working on C-Pod, Söderberg said, without hesitation, “listening to what the customer wants first, and not what the technology can offer.” By remaining flexible to a changing customer base and different problem sets, C Security Systems has been able to find where they add the most value. 

“We will continue to do our homework,” said Söderberg, and figure out how to “create valuable information” for customers in years to come. MPA protectors, send them your assignments, C-Pod is just getting warmed up.

ENRIC SALA/Courtesy of National Geographic Society
When asked what was his greatest lesson learned has been from working on C-Pod, Söderberg said, without hesitation, “listening to what the customer wants first, and not what the technology can offer.”

Technologies Used

// ONBOARD TRACKING & GEOFENCING TECHNOLOGY

C-pod

The C-pod is a boat alarm and GPS tracking system that uses geofencing to establish the vessel's position and notifies the user upon theft or unauthorized movement of the vessel.

Product Details Onboard Tracking & Geofencing Technology
// SOUTH PACIFIC // PALAU

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// GET IN TOUCH

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