Bilge dumping at sea:
Why should I care?

Our goal is to stop oil pollution at sea

SkyTruth has analyzed satellite imagery from around the world, documenting bilge dumping for years in Southeast Asia, the Mediterranean, West Africa, Latin America, and elsewhere. We’ve spoken with government officials, coastal business owners, advocacy groups, and others concerned about oil pollution washing up on beaches from vessels offshore, harming fisheries, wildlife, and coastal livelihoods. We believe this problem is serious, widespread, and has been long unaddressed. Until now.

Thanks to generous support from AWS, SkyTruth’s project Cerulean is now automating the analysis of thousands of satellite images every day through machine learning algorithms that identify bilge dumping globally. As more and more satellites are launched, covering even larger areas of the Earth, Cerulean will detect bilge dumping everywhere it is occurring.

The 2019 AWS re:Invent Hackathon for Good helped kick-start our automation effort. There, SkyTruth was one of four nonprofits chosen to tap the brainpower of dozens of engineers, computer scientists, and other experts for free. Since then, we’ve continued to make progress by processing thousands of satellite images a day and teaching our model how to identify oily slicks left by vessels. We are also using Automatic Identification System radio broadcasts from vessels to identify the most likely perpetrators and work with partners to bring them to justice.