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Dark Shipping

The Deep Insight Resource for Dark Shipping, AIS Spoofing & Manipulation, & Space-Based Maritime Monitoring

What is Dark Shipping?

"Dark Shipping" is ​a term used to describe a vessel operating with its Automatic Identification System (AIS) turned off. AIS transponder systems transmit a ship's position at sea, alongside identification data and other useful information that vessels and maritime authorities can reference. When a ship's AIS transponder is off, it operates "in the dark" or unmonitored - a strategy used to circumvent vessel tracking and support tactical-level activities such as sanctions avoidance, illegal trade, human trafficking, and other actions that do not comply with maritime law.


Read more about Automatic Identification Systems (AIS) here.

Dark Shipping Impacts

Dark Shipping navigates numerous industries, supporting unethical and unlawful operations around the globe.  


Sanctions evasion tactics comprise everything from dark ship-to-ship (STS) transfers at sea to unmonitored and unreported port calls for illicit trade - most often involving oil, liquified natural gas (LNG), and military equipment. 


IUU fishing activities violate national and international law, threaten food security, undermine conservation efforts, and put legally operating and sustainable fisheries at an economic disadvantage.


Human trafficking networks facilitate migrant smuggling, forced or low-wage labor, terrorist activities, and much more.


Dark shipping wreaks havoc on marine ecosystems, natural resources, and biological populations - affecting everything from conservation efforts to migration patterns of marine animals.

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