The oil spill that affected more than 1,243 miles of the Brazilian coast in August 2019 called for a more robust monitoring system of the area known as Blue Amazon.
The Brazilian Navy (MB, in Portuguese) named the vast 1.3-million-square-mile maritime space after the rainforest to raise public awareness about its economic and environmental relevance. Diálogo spoke with Rear Admiral Augusto José da Silva Fonseca Júnior, MB General Staff’s deputy chief of Strategy, in Brasília, about this and other topics.
Diálogo: What is the Blue Amazon Management System (SisGAAz, in Portuguese)?
Rear Admiral Augusto José da Silva Fonseca Júnior, MB General Staff’s deputy chief of Strategy: SisGAAz is a group of integrated subsystems with decision-making mechanisms to interact, collect, and share information of interest about the Blue Amazon with the many components of the Brazilian government that are legally certified to act. SisGAAz supports Maritime Situational Awareness (MSA), which seeks to effectively understand facts that may affect the environmental, economic, and national interests in the environment in which it’s applied, be it maritime or fluvial. It’s important to emphasize that the system has dual purposes.
It supports the Brazilian government in the many activities developed in its area of responsibility and the principles established by international agreements. The duality of SisGAAz requires the active participation of many non-MB institutions, which share tasks and responsibilities in the maritime environment.
Diálogo: How does this system enable the effective monitoring of maritime traffic in Brazil?
Rear Adm. Fonseca Júnior: MB has access to several systems to track vessels that rely on the cooperation of other vessels that use the Automatic Identification Systems and/or Long-Range Identification and Tracking systems. Not all existing vessels are traceable. Either because they don’t follow the existing set of requirements [dimensions], or because they are not used in regulated economic activities.
As such, it’s not possible to have a complete picture of their maritime use to take preventive or reactionary measures against malicious or unintentional activities — this is how untraceable ships, known as Dark Ships, come about. The solution found for a single scenario that may provide the required information for an MSA is the use of an active detection network (medium and long-range radars, automatic identification systems, hydrophones, and high performance cameras) to detect, identify, and follow activities in the Brazilian Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). This solution is an essential tool to allow the Brazilian government to exercise its authority, supplementing the current tracking systems.
Diálogo: Could SisGAAz have helped speed up oil spill investigations along the Brazilian coast?
Rear Adm. Fonseca Júnior: SisGAAz was created to operate alongside other departments, to collect and share timely essential information to support decision-making. For situations outside of the EEZ, in an area where tracking is possible but controversial because it’s in international waters, the system could reach suspects faster and safely, gathering information that would provide actual knowledge of maritime use, such as ships navigating through the EEZ with deactivated tracking systems. If anything happens within an area with active detection systems, an alarm can be sent to the responsible departments, which can take the necessary actions.
Diálogo: What is MB’s expectation regarding Brazil’s status as a major non-NATO ally?
Rear Adm. Fonseca Júnior: We expect to have easier access to doctrinal publications; participate in courses, exchanges, and exercises; establish bilateral cooperation; take advantage of the logistics supply chain; and acquire defense products from NATO and member countries.