The European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) and the European Space Agency (ESA) have signed an agreement, which strengthens the framework for cooperation between the two organisations in the field of maritime monitoring and surveillance.

In particular, EMSA will be supported by ESA on issues relating to the development of space technologies for maritime monitoring and surveillance. In light of its role as a long-term operational European user of satellite technology, EMSA will advise ESA on user requirements for new space systems and infrastructure.

The agreement was signed at the final preparatory stage of EMSA’s new satellite-based oil spill monitoring service covering all European waters and adjacent high seas. Under this service, potential oil slicks are detected using satellite radar images and an alert is provided to EU coastal states and EMSA within 30 minutes of the satellite acquiring the image.

Willem de Ruiter, executive director of EMSA, commented, “The agreement with ESA is very valuable for the Agency’s new European oil spill monitoring service. ESA’s earth observation satellite ENVISAT is an extremely powerful tool that will enable us to provide valuable additional services to EU Member States in the fight to control ship-sourced pollution.” For ESA, its director of Earth observation programmes, Volker Liebig, stated, “We see this agreement with EMSA as a major milestone in the operational use of data from Earth observation satellites in Europe.”