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Philippines, US eye wider space tech cooperation for maritime security

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines and the United States discussed expanding cooperation in using space-based technology to track vessels in Philippine waters and combat illegal fishing. 

In a joint statement on Tuesday, Manila and Washington said both governments agreed that Earth observation is a priority area for bilateral cooperation during their first bilateral space dialogue earlier this month. 

“The delegations recognized the potential for expanded cooperation on the use of space for maritime domain awareness, including through the US Department of Transportation-led SeaVision program,” the statement read. 

“Such programs can help monitor and document vessels in the Philippines’ territorial waters and Exclusive Economic Zone, ensure the safety of mariners at sea, monitor and help protect the environment, and help combat illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing,” it added. 

The two governments also agreed to consider a possible hosting in the Philippines of a US Geological Survey (USGS) Landsat ground station, and highlighted initiatives to expand the provision of satellite internet access to remote areas in the Philippines.

The Philippines expressed interest in further cooperation through programs like the SERVIR initiative of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) that seeks to address climate change and resource management.

“Both countries agreed to work together to expand bilateral exchange and training programs on the use of Earth observation satellite data, development of space applications and technologies and other space science and skills, including fellowships, scholarships and internship programs,” the statement read. 

The Philippines and US also committed to explore avenues, such as space industry development, at the next bilateral space dialogue to be held in the Philippines at a mutually agreed-upon date. — Gaea Katreena Cabico