Project title

CleanSeaNet - EMSA


CleanSeaNet is a near-real-time satellite-based oil spill and vessel monitoring service. It entered into operation on 16 April 2007. The service is continually being expanded and improved and provides a range of different products to the Commission and to EU Member States, and to other governmental and institutional partners as appropriate.
The legal basis for the CleanSeaNet service is Directive 2005/35/EC on ship-source pollution and on the introduction of penalties, including criminal penalties, for pollution offences (as amended by Directive 2009/123/EC). EMSA has been tasked to 'work with the Member States in developing technical solutions and providing technical assistance in relation to the implementation of this Directive, in actions such as tracing discharges by satellite monitoring and surveillance'.


The CleanSeaNet service is designed to provide tailor-made services to the operational institutions in the Member States. A strong link with the user community in the Member States is therefore necessary to provide a service oriented towards user needs. With the intention of ensuring a strong link with the user community, EMSA decided to establish the CleanSeaNet User Group. The objectives of this group are:
i) Performance assessment of the service;
ii) Identification of elements for improvement, and;
iii) Drafting of medium and long term goals.
Representatives from the Member States and candidate countries operationally involved in oil pollution monitoring and surveillance are invited to the CleanSeaNet User Group. The User Group meets regularly.


Coastal States have defined the areas to be monitored by the CleanSeaNet service, together with the required number of satellite scenes. The basis of the definitions has been the knowledge of the national hot spots, i.e. areas where the illegal oil discharges are known to take place, areas of high traffic density etc.

The satellite acquisition planning is done directly by the CleanSeaNet service. Each plan covers a time period of one month. The planning is sent to the operational contact points in coastal States for confirmation, and is used accordingly when planning the aerial and/or vessel verification support to the satellite scenes. When a coastal State has confirmed the planning, EMSA issues an order for the scenes.

The satellite images are downloaded, and the data is processed and analysed to detect possible oil slicks. An alert report is produced for every planned image to inform the coastal States on the results of the analysis, i.e. whether possible oil slicks are detected or not. In case slicks are detected, the affected coastal State immediately receives an alert to enable the coastal State to take quick actions in order to verify and quantify the slick and to identify the potential source. The complete process, from satellite overpass to the alert, takes a maximum of 30 minutes.



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