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Satellite Oil Spill Monitoring

CleanSeaNet is a European satellite-based oil spill and vessel detection service. It offers assistance to participating States for the following activities:

  • identifying and tracing oil pollution on the sea surface
  • monitoring accidental pollution during emergencies
  • contributing to the identification of polluters 

What it does

The CleanSeaNet service is based on radar satellite images, covering all European sea areas, which are analysed in order to detect possible oil spills on the sea surface. When a possible oil spill is detected in national waters, an alert message is delivered to the relevant country. Analysed images are available to national contact points within 30 minutes of the satellite passing overhead. Approximately 2,000 images are ordered and analysed per year.

The service, which is integrated into national and regional pollution response chains, aims to strengthen operational responses to accidental and deliberate discharges from ships, and assist participating States to locate and identify polluters in areas under their jurisdiction.

Vessel detection is also available through the CleanSeaNet service. When a vessel is detected on in a satellite image, the identity of the vessel can often be determined through correlating the satellite data with vessel traffic reports (SafeSeaNet). This increases the likelihood that a State will be able to determine which vessel is polluting and take action (e.g. verifying the spill, inspecting the vessel on entry into port).

Each coastal State has access to the CleanSeaNet service through a dedicated user interface, which enables them to view ordered images. Users can also access a wide range of supplementary information through the interface, such as oil drift modelling (forecasting and backtracking), optical images, and oceanographic and meteorological information.

Why we need radar satellites

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CleanSeaNet Users

MSS - Operations Centre

About the MSS
The Maritime Support Services Operations Centre is at the heart of EMSA’s maritime monitoring and information activities.