Philippines Granted Access to Canadian Satellites for Dark Vessel Detection
Canada is set to grant the Philippines unrestricted access to cutting-edge satellites, which will enable maritime authorities to closely monitor vessels within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone, almost in real time. These satellites are capable of tracking ships that have deactivated their location transmitters to avoid detection, commonly known as ‘dark vessels’.
Interviews with David Hartman, Ambassador of Canada to the Philippines, reveal his concerns over the recent activities in the West Philippine Sea and the South China Sea. He has said that negotiations for the Dark Vessel Detection Program are nearing a conclusion and he believes this program will significantly enhance the Philippines’ maritime domain awareness and its capacity to combat illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing while safeguarding marine environments.
Canada’s Dark Vessel Detection Program is an integral part of its 2022 Indo-Pacific Strategy, designed to assist developing countries like the Philippines in locating illegal fishing vessels and protecting marine resources. As part of this strategy, Canada has been actively strengthening security partnerships and increasing its naval presence in the region.
In addition to providing access to Canadian satellites, Ottawa has dispatched one of its Halifax-class frigates to participate for the first time in the joint Philippines-US naval exercise known as “Sama-Sama” (All Together), taking place from October 2 to October 13 in southern Luzon. Canada will also be deploying an active-duty defence attache to Manila. This move underscores Canada’s commitment to its security partnership with the Philippines.
In September, three Royal Canadian Navy vessels visited the Philippines, including the HMCS Ottawa, the supply ship MV Asterix and the HMCS Vancouver, which will participate in Exercise Sama-Sama. The Vancouver’s involvement in the exercise aims to promote regional security cooperation, enhance maritime partnerships and improve maritime interoperability.
Sama-Sama, seeks to reinforce international defense cooperation, uphold a rules-based international order and enhance the Philippine Navy’s warfare capabilities, according to the Armed Forces of the Philippines. Japan and the United Kingdom will also deploy ships to Sama-Sama, while Australia and France will send teams for knowledge exchanges on naval warfare and disaster response. Indonesia and New Zealand will participate as observers.