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that are either impacting AIS currently or are
likely to impact it in the years ahead?
Tetreault: Not so much challenges as
opportunities. We are only starting to use the
full capabilities of AIS, in particular the ability
to transmit information of use to vessels, such
as alerts and warnings, augmented aids to
navigation information, weather observations,
navigation infrastructure information, etc.
Also, work has begun at the international
Tetreault: I believe there is similar voluntary carriage by recreational boaters happening
in other countries as we are seeing in the US.
MEJ: How good is compliance abroad with
AIS requirements. Are there particular vessel
types or perhaps regions that are problematic?
Tetreault: Compliance with carriage
requirements appears to be pretty good from
the statistics I have seen for the US. With the
expanded US carriage regulations coming into
effect over the next few months we will have to
see how that goes. The new regs include certain vessels that previously weren’t covered
(e.g., some fishing and towing vessels) and
areas that did not have a carriage requirement.
An area where compliance has been an
issue is with the accuracy of the information
transmitted by the vessels, and this is not completely their fault. Incorrect MMSIs (Maritime
Mobile Service Identity) and vessel names,
outdated or incorrect vessel dimensions, destination, ETA, etc. are issues often seen in AIS
data. The Coast Guard has published an
encoding guide that should help with this data
entry, and AIS and ECS (Electronic Chart Systems) equipment standards have been modified to make data entry easier and more accurate.
MEJ: How do foreign vessel traffic authorities deal with the issue of congestion on AIS
displays in heavily trafficked areas—or maybe
this is not a problem?
Tetreault: I do not believe this is a problem. Software and displays have advanced so
that there are many options for “filtering” or
“decluttering” the displays, and processes can
help to ensure the most important data is presented to those who need it.
MEJ: Is manipulation of AIS signals (
spoofing and jamming) an issue in foreign waters?
Tetreault: There have been some rather
sensationalistic reports of such spoofing, but
my understanding is that they have been more
on the theoretical side rather than actual
“spoofing” activity. Not to say that it is defi-
nitely not happening—I’m sure there are cer-
tain vessel operators, states and others who act
to disguise their AIS signals, though just turn-
ing the unit off is probably a lot easier than
coming up with a spoofing mechanism. AIS is
an open system— it was designed to be a
broadly used contributor to navigation safety,
which is its prime purpose, and I believe it
meets that very well. Also, we need to remem-
ber that AIS is not the only way to detect,
identify and track vessels—radar, visual, and
other means are there as well, and as any
mariner knows you do not rely on any single
source of information.
MEJ: Are there any issues/challenges abroad (Continued on page 57)