In an effort to provide UAS support for marine mammal disentanglement response efforts in Sweden, Oceans Unmanned Inc. (OU), the Scottish Entanglement Alliance (SEA) and DARTdrones have expanded their freeFLY initiative into the country.

Through the freeFLY program, which was launched in 2018, networks of local volunteer drone operators that are available to support regional response groups are provided with equipment and hands-on training.

OU notes that UAS operators were provided with initial flight training and advanced safe launching, operating, and recovering drones from small boats and support vessels over the course of a two-day session that it hosted.

“Based on the available data, the rate of entanglements and range of species impacted appear to be increasing in Scottish waters,” says Ellie MacLennan, coordinator of the SEA project.

“The addition of aerial imagery from on-scene, vessel-launched drones will provide improved situational awareness and increased safety for both the animal and responders.”

One of SEA’s goals is to improve reporting rates of marine animal entanglements. SEA also wants to provide fisherman with opportunities to get involved with entanglement research and disentanglement efforts through workshops and training courses.

The entities note that the freeFLY training was part of a larger workshop that focused on “encouraging better reporting of entanglements, widening Scotland’s existing entanglement response network, and sharing insights to better understand, mitigate and respond to incidents.”

“This event was a great opportunity to work with both SEA and the IWC and hopefully begin a long-term partnership” says Brian Taggart, chief pilot for Oceans Unmanned.

“We were able to donate complete drone equipment sets, safety gear, and provide a significant amount of on-the-water training for the response teams.”

Source: AUVSI

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