The genesis of this project was in 1992 when we foresaw the arrival of a range of new remote sensing systems, and the opportunity to utilize an increasing archive of sea-surface temperature images, which could be of potential benefit to fisheries operations and management. We sought to develop, evaluate and apply remote sensing data to Australian fisheries with the specific application focussed on the east coast tuna fisheries. After a number of years of delays with the construction and launch of the outsourced Sea WiFS ocean colour satellite by the commercial company OrbImage, the project eventually began in earnest in July 1996, a few months before Sea WiFS was eventually launched successfully. The repeated delays and huge cost increases (by a factor of 10!) in accessing SeaWiFS data led us to seek alternate ways of obtaining ground-truth data and to extend the utility of sea-surface temperature (SST) in fisheries applications. The end result of this perseverance is the development of a highly successful Automated Underway System, and a catch prediction system based on SST. A less obvious benefit of this project is the lessons it teaches us about the application of new technologies to old problems.
One undeniable conclusion of this work is that there are considerable synergies to be gained from involving industry in both data gathering and exchange of knowledge. Satellite seasurface temperature data is indispensable in fisheries operations. Operators who are aware of this are capitalizing on the information and others involved in this project are also now utilizing the information. There is a clear need for an educational process to further the use of remote sensing information for the benefit of operators and managers. A subjective, but fair, assessment is that the most successful operators in the east coast tuna fisheries now actively use remote sensing data to assist their operations.