[B]I have been an avid supporter of Marinetraffic.com for since inception. I have worked offshore in the Arabian Gulf as well as West Africa and have never understood why the maritime industry has not got behind this organisation. Whenever I approached management to install an AIS receiver to upload data, they always intimated that it would pose a security threat. This is despite the fact that people in the operational area routinely accessed Marinetraffic.com to ascertain the location of the vessels they were monitoring. We were constantly hamstrung by the fact that we were relying on other parties to upload AIS data from vessels and the vessels in our proximity were not being seen as we were not taking uploading.
I now find myself working in a small Australian port where we do upload data however the neighbouring ports have an internal private system which denies access by those not licensed. I embarked on a quest to try and determine why AIS information is not spread for the benefit of all and found the following on the IMO site.
[I]Maritime security - AIS ship data[/I][/B][I]
[B]At its79th session in December 2004, the Maritime Safety Committee (MSC) agreed that, in relation to the issue of freely available automatic information system (AIS)-generated ship data on the world-wide web, the publication on the world-wide web or elsewhere of AIS data transmitted by ships could be detrimental to the safety and security of ships and port facilities and was undermining the efforts of the Organization and its Member States to enhance the safety of navigation and security in the international maritime transport sector. [/B]
[B]The Committee condemned the regrettable publication on the world-wide web, or elsewhere, of AIS data transmitted by ships and urged Member Governments, subject to the provisions of their national laws, to discourage those who make available AIS data to others for publication on the world-wide web, or elsewhere from doing so.[/B]
[B]In addition, the Committee condemned those who irresponsibly publish AIS data transmitted by ships on the world-wide web, or elsewhere, particularly if they offer services to the shipping and port industries.
[/B][/I]I simply cannot understand how anyone can even think that the dissemination of AIS data on the internet poses a security threat. The whole purpose of AIS was to disclose the presence of a vessel to other vessels. If the vessel is operating in an area where it is under threat the Master is able to turn off the transmissions. Small vessels without AIS regularly utilise sites such as Marinetraffic.com to monitor vessels. Stevedores, agents, pilots, chandlers etc. etc. all make use of this “free” information and it is very convenient to be able to monitor the vessel you are concerned with without having to email or telephone someone who may or may not have the latest ETA. I believe IMO are off side on this issue.