The Quad nations have unveiled a marine monitoring initiative based on satellites

The US, Japan, India, and Australia have agreed to begin a satellite-based project to assist countries in the Indo-Pacific area is tracking illegal fishing as well as other suspicious maritime activity.

The vow to monitor the seas is part of a larger set of peace, security, scientific, and technology agreements signed during the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue’s May 24 summit in Tokyo, Japan’s capital. The monitoring effort would most likely focus on China’s maritime actions in the region, as the Quad is a US-led security forum focused on opposing China.

“We strongly condemn any coercive, aggressive, or unilateral acts that seek to change the status quo and escalate tensions in the area, such as the militarization of disputed features, the risky use of coast guard boats and marine militia, and efforts to disrupt other nations’ offshore resource exploitation activities,” the leaders said in a joint statement issued following their meeting. The statement made no mention of China. The satellite-based marine domain awareness effort would “promote prosperity and security in our seas and oceans,” they claim.

According to the South China Morning Post, Fumio Kishida, the Japanese Prime Minister told reporters on May 24 that the summit’s purpose was to debate and expand “practical cooperation” in the Indo-Pacific area, not to single out any one country. The four countries, however, expressed “grave concern” about “China unilaterally changing the system in the East and South China Seas,” according to the prime minister.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and new Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese went to Japan for the day-long meeting with Biden, who is on his first trip to Asia as president of the United States. The four countries’ leaders last met face to face in September in Washington.

Moreover, the four leaders agreed to develop a “Quad Satellite Data Portal” that combines links to corresponding national satellite data resources in order to facilitate accessibility to Earth-observation satellite data and applications. This offer is part of their attempts to use space-related applications and systems to address global concerns like climate change.

“Space-related applications and technologies also can help solve shared concerns like climate change, catastrophe planning, and response, and sustainable usage of oceans and marine resources,” they wrote in the statement. “We will collaborate to develop space applications, particularly Earth observation, and give capacity development assistance to countries in the area, including working on the use of space capabilities to react to extreme precipitation events.” The leaders also decided to undertake collaborative seminars to promote space sustainability rules, norms, guidelines, and principles.

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