In September 2005 the European Parliament and the Council adopted Directive 2005/35/EC (since amended by Directive 2009/123/EC) on ship-source pollution and on the introduction of penalties, including criminal penalties, for pollution offences. The Directive tasks EMSA to "work with the member states in developing technical solutions and providing technical assistance in actions such as tracing discharges by satellite monitoring and surveillance."
In early 2006, EMSA consulted industry and the national authorities in order to collect information on existing operational surveillance resources and further requirements for oil pollution monitoring. EMSA also obtained considerable feedback from other relevant organisations, such as the European Space Agency, all of which was used as input for the development of the CleanSeaNet service, which became operational in April 2007.
CleanSeaNet is now the most comprehensive oil spill monitoring and polluter identification service in Europe, and supplies over 2 000 satellite radar images a year to the 28 participating states including EU Member States and their overseas territories, candidate countries and EFTA Member States.