Space technology can turn the tide for blue economy and help feed the world

North East conference on UK satellite sector’s opportunity to tackle global marine issues

25 February 2019

The UK’s growing space and satellite sector can play a vital role in the global ocean economy and help to use the seas to feed the world, a major industry conference will be told.

Technology can help improve forecasting, monitoring and communications for the global aquaculture industry, according to Jimmy Slaughter, solutions architect, Scottish Centre of Excellence in Satellite Applications (SoXSA).

“If we get it right, the seas and oceans can help feed the world and offset the growing pressure on farmland. If we get it wrong, it could spell disaster for the environment,” said Slaughter.

He is one of the industry leaders and experts attending the conference, Discover the Possibilities: Into the Blue, held by the North East Satellite Applications Centre of Excellence on 28 March at the National Glass Centre in Sunderland.

According to Slaughter, the space and satellite sector could help Scotland meet its target of doubling the value of its aquaculture industry to £3.6 billion by 2030.

Improved forecasting and monitoring, data from satellites and communications technology can help fish farms prepare for potential problems such as algae blooms and minimise environmental damage caused by farmed fish stocks.

“It is not simply about opening more fish farms, but making them more efficient through better husbandry. Satellite predictions of weather patterns and sea temperatures help fish farmers to plan, while communications technology can improve connectivity, which is a major problem in remote areas, inshore and offshore.

“The people working in aquaculture are scientists who care deeply about animal welfare and the environment and with the support from their colleagues in the space and satellite sector we can help them make the most of technologies that can transform their industry,” said Slaughter.

The conference will address the role of space and satellite technology in tackling issues such as using the sea for food and energy, trade and travel, improved communications for ports and shipping, and pollution.

Other speakers include: Sean McCarthy, head of market intelligence at the Satellite Applications Catapult; Claire Barcham, commercial space director, UK Space Agency; Catherine Armour, director of customer division, UK Hydrographic Office and Rebecca Ball, creative director for Sunderland Culture.

The North East Satellite Applications Centre of Excellence is managed by Business Durham, the economic development organisation for County Durham.

Catherine Johns, innovation director at Business Durham, said: “As a region with a great maritime tradition and cutting-edge engineering skills, the North East is well placed to shape the debate about how space and satellite technology can transform the blue economy.

“The UK has a great opportunity to play a leading international role in finding solutions to some of the biggest problems of our age, such as improving aquaculture to feed the growing population in the 21st Century.”

The Discover the Possibilities: Into the Blue conference will take place on 28 March at the National Glass Centre, Liberty Way, Sunderland SR6 0GL

To register for the event visit: