McHugh-Warren, Sherry L. and Simms, Elizabeth L. (2012) RADAR IMAGES IN THE PROSECUTION OF ILLEGAL OIL DISCHARGES: OPPORTUNITIES AND A CASE STUDY. The Journal of Ocean Technology, 7 (4). pp. 73-86. ISSN 1718-3200

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Illegal oil discharges from ships are harmful to the world’s oceans. Earth observation satellites such as Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) offer many advantages in the collection of data for use in the prosecution of illegal discharges. However, the process by which radar images can be used in court is yet to be ascertained, especially with regards to the admissibility and authentication of the data as evidence. It was determined that expert witness qualifications and the reliability of SAR images for oil spill detection address the concept of admissibility of the information presented in court. Conversely, authentication relies on quality metadata. A case study is presented that uses a RADARSAT-1 (R-1) SAR image as the main evidence and oblique aerial photographs as supporting documentation of an offshore oil spill incident in the waters south of Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada. This case helps highlight the legal chain of custody involved with using remote sensing images. The research reveals that satellite SAR imagery can be used operationally to extract information about oil spills and the ocean environment. The main difficulties with the use of these images in the prosecution of illegal oil discharges lie with tracking the analysis process, the coordination of aerial photograph recording as supporting evidence and the overall evidence gathering protocol.

Item Type: Article
URI: http://research.library.mun.ca/id/eprint/678
Item ID: 678
Keywords: Oil discharges; Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR); Aerial photographs; Evidence; Admissibility; Authentication; Integrated Satellite Tracking of Polluters (I-STOP)
Department(s): Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of > Geography
Date: 2012
Date Type: Publication

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