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Background information on maritime surveillance

The seas surrounding the European Union contain some of the busiest shipping areas in the world. As well as handling around 90% of EU external trade and around 35% of trade between EU countries, the sea lanes also handle a huge amount of through traffic. In particular, oil tanker traffic is rapidly growing as more and more oil is progressively being brought to the global market place via EU waters. The consequence of this significant growth in tanker traffic, in addition to the existing level of hazardous goods traffic in general, is a corresponding growth in environmental risk to the European Union in most of its main sea areas. Specifically, these are the Mediterranean area and the Black Sea, the Baltic Sea, the North Sea, the Northern channels between Sweden, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, France and the UK and the Atlantic arc sea area.

Much of the growth in future maritime traffic could also occur as a result of the EU drive to move goods transport off the roads.  In addition, there is also growth in passenger traffic from the present 350 million passenger journeys per year, and this is spread around the EU. Added to the growth in traffic, in many EU sea areas, weather conditions, geographical restrictions, tidal conditions and other factors ensure that the danger of accidents will increase unless improved safety and environmental risk reduction procedures are set in place. At the core of the required procedural improvements are traffic organisation measures which involve the monitoring of ship movements, with the aim of preventing the development of dangerous situations.

With these things in mind, in addition to initiatives being taken at national level, EU Directive 2002/59 has been set in place in order that a Community vessel traffic monitoring and information system can be established. The purpose of this is to ensure that ships in EU waters, and their cargoes, are monitored more effectively than in the past, and that there is a more consistent approach across all EU sea areas.

EMSA is the EU level provider of technical support in implementing Directive 2002/59, and this includes the following responsibilities:

  • Provision of support to the European Commission in the development of the SafeSeaNet project, which is a pan-European electronic information system which deals with ship movements and cargoes.
  • Management of SafeSeaNet and organisation of follow-up issues in cooperation with Member States' maritime administrations.
  • Coordination of activities aimed at organising places of refuge around the EU coastline for ships in distress.
  • Provision of technical support to the European Commission in its work in proposing amendments to Directive 2002/59.
  • Monitoring of developments in IMO and IALA on long distance Automatic Identification Systems (AIS).
  • Participation in regional meetings concerning the above items (eg HELCOM, Bonn Agreement, etc.).
  • Participation in the work of the IMO ad-hoc working group on the engineering aspects of access to the Shore based Traffic Monitoring Infrastructure Database (STMID)

SafeSeaNet Ecosystem GUI

SEG Infographics v0 5 Final Editable 05
The SafeSeaNet Ecosystem Graphical User Interface (SEG) is the common web interface providing access to EMSA's maritime applications and data sets including SSN, IMS, LRIT and CSN.