A lower cost radar solution to effectively monitor marine protected areas. An introductory video about Marine Monitor is available here.

Preserving marine protected areas (MPAs) is challenging since poaching and other activities can occur at night, in the early hours of the morning, and far offshore. Military grade systems for persistent monitoring exist, but cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. The Marine Monitor (M2) complete system package assists at a fraction of the cost (~$70,000) using off-the-shelf, commercially proven radars integrated with our open-source software. The radar can automatically track over 30 vessels in real-time, depending on vessel size and height, and visibility to targets up to 10nm offshore. M2 can further improve MPA monitoring with the optional integration of a Automatic Identification System (AIS) sensor and high-definition pan-tilt-zoom video camera.


1. Managers can define ‘security zones’ and configure alarms that are triggered based on vessel speed and time spent within a MPA.

2. The software system enables real-time views of radar data online and stores historical track data so that activity patterns can be replayed and analyzed.

3. Conservation managers can use data collected through the M2 to better focus enforcement efforts as needed, saving gasoline and other resources. By making enforcement easier and more strategic, M2 can play a critical role in enforcing MPAs and preserving biodiversity globally.

Additional features recently added to the M2 platform include a pan-tilt-zoom camera that can track and photograph targets up to 2nm offshore, and the integration of an AIS sensor that can track boats transmitting AIS.

To use the M2 software, users will need to acquire the equipment listed below in the System Specifications and Additional Equipment Required for Successful Deployment sections.


  • Furuno DRS4D – NXT 24″ Dome Antenna or Furuno DRS6A X-Class 4′ Open Array antenna. For additional radar specifications, please see the Furuno DRS4D-NXT or DRS6A X-Class installation manuals.
  • Furuno TZTL12F NavNet TZ Touch 12″ Chartplotter Multi-Function Display
  • Navico GS25 Antenna with built in Rate Compass
  • Actisense USG-2 USB to NMEA0183 Converter
  • Computer with at least 8GB of memory and 1TB of storage
  • Power Supply Converter Charger: 110 Volt to 12 Volt Dv for Rv Pm3-45 (35Amp)

Optional Equipment Configurations:

  • Automatic Identification System (AIS) Sensor: SI-TEX MDA-2 metadata dual channel parallel AIS receiver and AIS Antenna
  • Pan-Tilt-Zoom Camera: COHU RISE 4260HD PTZ IP Video Camera


  • Radar Tower: To ensure a clear view of the area being monitored, the radar needs to be mounted at least 25-30ft above water. The height of the tower depends on radar location and distance from the coastline. The roof of a building or other structure with a clear view of the managed area can also be used in place of a tower.
  • Electricity: A consistent power source must be available (either grid tide or off grid) to power the system 24/7. Specific power requirements vary depending on system hardware configuration.
  • Internet Access: Internet connection via ethernet or wifi connection. If local internet connection is unavailable a remote internet connection is required through a satellite internet terminal capable of transmitting via HTTP protocol and a data plan of at least 5.5MB/day.


MPA Deployment sites must:

  1. Have regulations in place and geo coordinates of MPA boundaries
  2. Have committed staff to manage equipment and perform enforcement
  3. Have enforcement capabilities (rangers, boats, etc.)
  4. Have infrastructure in place to house equipment
  5. Be willing to share regular reports on boat activity and to share data
  6. Be willing to assist with logistics for shipping equipment
  7. Be committed to supporting on-going annual operating expenses


If you are interested in deploying an M2 system at your site, please review and fill out the M2 Deployment Site Application and send to brendan@anthinst.org.

If you are interested in sponsoring this system for an MPA or you would like additional information, please contact brendan@anthinst.org

How we as humans use the San Francisco Bay has been poorly documented.  This system, with radar, video and AIS, will enable us to document one of the predominant uses of the Bay: boating of all sorts.  This is incredibly important to assess the risk of ship strikes to marine mammals, as more dolphins, porpoises and whales are entering the Bay, not to mention seals and sea lions!  Vessels moving through the Bay also create an acoustic presence, affect the air, and create threats of fuel spills and point-source pollutants.  We need a clear picture of how we use the Bay if we want to manage and conserve it.

– Ellen Hines, PhD, Associate Director and Professor of Geography & Environment, Romberg Tiburon Center for Environmental Studies, San Francisco State University