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Monitoring Illicit Discharges from Vessel


Specific Objectives:
1. Mapping Illicit discharges: To provide reliable spatial information through time concerning oil discharges in European seas to support the development of a European monitoring system;
2. Collection of contextual information: To collect and organise in a database relevant contextual information including: inventories and maps of port facilities, the activities of Member States and Regional Agreements, the operational tools and methodologies currently employed, and the legal aspects connected to the problem at international and national level;
3. Establishing guidelines for prosecution: To support from a scientific and technical point of view the definition of guidelines for "building sufficient evidence" for law enforcement for illicit discharges, in accordance to the current status of the governing legal instruments;
4. Web based services: To make publicly available a sub-set of the information created under the different workpackages of the project through a dedicated web site. Overall this work will be indertaken in close partnership with national authorities and European research organisations. As a result an over-arching objective for the action will be to establish, within the context of the European Research Area, a network that integrates effort in the field.

Anticipated milestones and schedule 1.1 The first results of the mapping of illicit discharges in European seas will be presented to the European Marine Pollution Management Committee in March 2003. A follow-up presentation will be made to the next Committee meeting scheduled for September 2003. 1.2 A preliminary meeting of potential partners for the work will meet in February 2003, with a view to establishing a formal network on the subject. The network is planned to be formalised by June 2003. 1.3 A feasibility plan for a field test in 2004 will be developed by December 2003 for presentation and acceptance to DG ENV. 2.1 The design of the database and associated GIS will be presented to DG ENV for approval in June 2003. 4.1 The publication rules for the web site will be presented to DG ENV for approval in June 2003.
Planned Deliverables:
1. Maps of regional and local incidents of illicit discharges in European seas for the year 2002;
1&2. - Data base of detected oil spill signatures and reliable statistical assessments integrated into a GIS with indicators of environmental sensitivity and other relevant contextual information. Assessment at the regional level of the extent of non-conformity with regulations. Assessments on specific needs for abating pollution in areas facing higher pressure;
3. Methodology for reconstructing spilling history and responsible ships identification;
4. Web site design and implementation.
Summary of the Action:
This action aims at providing updated information on the extent of non- conformity with the international environmental law and Member States Regulations concerning illicit vessel discharges. The work will assist the Commission Services, the Regional Marine Conventions and the Member States in assessing the effectiveness of the existing policies, as well as for optimising plans for focused patrol and intervention strategies. The most advanced and effective remote sensing techniques will be employed in order to produce on a routine basis maps of illicit discharges. The work will be initially based on Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) images and will incorporate any additional source of information that will be made available in the course of the work. The results of the analysis will be collated and organized, along with contextual information, in a database for further statistical analysis. This will allow an assessment of specific aspects, such as the identification of areas under higher risk, the optimisation of patrolling activities, and the effectiveness of activities aimed to combat the problem. Rationale Besides accidental pollution caused by ships in distress, different types of routine ship operations lead to deliberate discharges of oil in the sea. Illicit discharges are the greatest source of marine pollution from ships, and the one which poses an long-term threat to the marine and coastal environment. The solution derived by the international community to the problem of marine pollution from ships is the MARPOL 73/78 convention. This sets strict standards for ship discharges. Europe is especially privileged by this regulation, since all its regional seas are now accorded the status of ¡§Special Sea Area¡¨ where discharges are almost totally prohibited. Reliable monitoring methodologies and continuously updated comprehensive information are key elements to create effective contingency planning. This requires a firm technical foundation for civil protection and the mitigation of social and economical impacts from man- made risks. The European Commission (DG ENV) has already a recognized coordination and supporting role of the national efforts and activities to combat the problem of illicit pollution at sea. The JRC has been asked by DG ENV to technically support them in this area. Specifically the JRC has been asked to provide an effective tool for the monitoring of the illicit discharges in all the European seas. JRC has been asked to undertake this role as a neutral, European Commission laboratory in order to complement the role of DG ENV, and to stimulate action by the Member States.


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