Improving Papua New Guinea Fisheries with THEMIS SAR

Jun 27, 2024

The National Fisheries Authority (NFA) of Papua New Guinea (PNG) has embarked with CLS on a unique and groundbreaking contract involving the deployment of THEMIS SAR (Thematic Maritime Information System Search and Rescue).

Although the NFA is not a Search and Rescue (SAR) organization in the strictest sense, as such an organization does exist in Papua New Guinea, the Authority is setting a new benchmark in maritime safety by taking proactive steps to ensure the security and protection of its fishing vessels, fishing crew and personnel.

Leveraging Economic Importance and Efficiency

Guan Oon – Director of CLS Oceania, the driving force behind this great project, identified two critical factors:

  1. Economic Significance of Fishing in PNG: fishing is a cornerstone of PNG’s economy, and incidents involving fishing boats (from small scale coastal vessels to medium-large scale high seas vessels) are unfortunately common. The NFA recognized the need for an independent system to safeguard all fishermen and NFA personnel such as on board Observers.
  2. Financial Capacity: the NFA has access to budget allocations due to the economic benefits derived from the fishing industry. This financial leverage allows the NFA to invest in advanced safety tools like THEMIS SAR, reducing dependency on regional and overseas aid to be self-sufficient and independent.

Enhanced Tracking and Safety Operations

Beyond traditional SAR operations THEMIS SAR is also capable of displaying near real time Vessel Monitoring System (VMS) positions for all vessels that are reporting to the NFA.

The system receives two primary data streams from vessels fitted with VMS beacons (MTUs/e-MTUs) which are either manufactured or managed by CLS namely the TRITON ADVANCED, NEMO, Iridium Edge Solar and Faria Watchdog.

vms data feed

VMS and AIS positions displayed in Themis SAR

Themis SAR screenshot of an exercise created by the NFA in the monitored area in backtrack mode[/caption]For non-VMS reporting vessels, THEMIS SAR can also integrate an AIS (Automatic Identification System) data stream of other vessels and ships, and together with the VMS positions, this then provides a full surface picture around the incident area. This feature thus ensures that all necessary information is available during critical rescue missions, making it easier to identify potential assets in the vicinity that could assist in the search and rescue operations.

(The VMS data displayed in THEMIS SAR is for SAR purposes. The NFA utilizes another platform:  FIMS ATS (Fisheries Information Management System – Asset Tracking System) as the primary VMS platform to manage fishing activities and compliance monitoring)

What’s Next: streamlining SAR Operations with Enhanced VMS Capabilities

From July 2024, THEMIS SAR will enhance its capabilities to initiate SAR operations directly from the last recorded VMS position, enhancing response efforts.

exercice backtrack themis SAR

Themis SAR screenshot of an exercise created by the NFA in the monitored area in backtrack mode

The National Fisheries Authority’s innovative approach with THEMIS SAR represents a significant advancement in ensuring the safety and efficiency of PNG’s fishing industry and extends to non fishing coastal and inter-island small crafts and vessels.

By taking control of their SAR capabilities and leveraging advanced tracking systems, the NFA sets a new standard for maritime safety and operational efficiency in the region.

From February 5 to 8, we had the pleasure of hosting a delegation from the Papua New Guinea National Fisheries Authority, headed by Guan Oon, CEO Director of CLS Oceania.


The PNG delegation in February at CLS HQ Toulouse.

We extend our gratitude to David KARIS, Executive Manager-Monitoring Control and Surveillance (EM MCS), PNG NFA and all members of the delegation for their visit to CLS HQ in Toulouse. The deployment of the THEMIS SAR solution in Papua New Guinea started in October 2023. THEMIS SAR, CLS’ dedicated search planning solution for rescue coordination centers, aims to enhance operational efficiency.

PNG at CLS operational center

The objective of the training course was to impart and transfer our expertise in operating the THEMIS SAR search planning solution, a user-friendly platform with rapid model calculation capabilities, enabling effective planning and coordination of SAR operations. To enhance situational awareness, members of the PNG NFA have access to both AIS and VMS data feeds, aiding in vessel identification near incident sites to assist with search efforts.

Aligned with guidelines from the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) as outlined in the IAMSAR Manual, THEMIS SAR optimizes SAR operations by determining optimal search areas, estimating required resources, calculating search patterns, and facilitating critical decision-making processes.

CLS has been a leading provider of SAR services globally for two decades. THEMIS SAR stands as a premier SAR solution utilized by national and regional organizations. Our team of experts actively engages in industry events and regulatory discussions to ensure continuous improvement and adherence to best practices, leveraging advancements in satellite-based technologies. We offer a comprehensive turnkey solution, from initial contact to post-implementation support.