IMS: thematic services
A number of thematic IMS services meet the needs of specific user communities in the following areas: fisheries monitoring and control work with EFCA, border control with Frontex, law enforcement with Europol, EUNAVFOR-Med: Operation Irini and MAOC (N), and anti-piracy with EUNAVFOR-Somalia: Operation Atalanta.
The provision of these IMS services is in line with the EMSA 5-Year Strategy 2020-2024 and more specifically the two priorities of Security: Strengthen maritime security in Europe and globally where there is a European interest; and Surveillance: Strengthen EMSA’s role as the core information management hub for maritime surveillance.
IMS Services for the Commission, EU Agencies and other Operational Bodies
The EMSA IMS-EFCA service is open to users at the European Fisheries Control Agency and to fisheries authorities in the Member States, as well as in the European Commission. The service is customised to support fisheries monitoring and control operations. Fisheries specific information integrated in the service includes VMS position data from fishing vessels, fishing vessel details, and fisheries areas.
To support fisheries control and monitoring activities, EFCA and fishery authorities in the MS make intensive use of Automated Behaviour Monitoring (ABM) algorithms. The service also includes the use of satellite imagery (EO) products, available through the Copernicus Maritime Surveillance service, to detect and, when combined with vessel position information, identify vessels in areas of interest. These EO/vessel position products are shared with Frontex as well as MS. In addition, EO products related to vessel detection and identification acquired under the CleanSeaNet service are also shared with EFCA. Over 1 000 users currently access the service in EFCA, the Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Directorate-General of the European Commission (DG MARE), and at Member State level.
IMS for Frontex
The EMSA IMS-Frontex service, provided under the EMSA-Frontex Service Level Agreement signed in 2013, is a major user of IMS system to system (S2S) capabilities, serving approximately 1 000 users from the border control community via Frontex interfaces. Existing EMSA functionalities have been adapted to fit the specific needs of the border control community, taking the form of services that include vessel traffic monitoring, tools to identify specific movement patterns (ABMs), the integration of satellite imagery for detecting and, when combined with vessel positions, identifying vessels and datasets to assist in risk analysis.
At the request of Frontex, EMSA also acquires hundreds of Earth Observation products per month with the support of funding from the Copernicus Border Surveillance service as managed by Frontex.
In addition, Earth Observation products related to vessel detection and identification acquired under the CleanSeaNet service as managed by EMSA are also shared with Frontex. This arrangement allows for the vast amounts of maritime data hosted by EMSA to be fused together, thus providing a more comprehensive maritime awareness picture for end users.
Access to the Frontex interface fed by the IMS S2S is managed by Frontex and is subject to the access rights arrangements in place between Frontex and EMSA.
IMS and law enforcement
The EMSA IMS-Europol service is provided to the European Union’s law enforcement agency, following the signature of the EMSA-Europol Working Arrangement on 18 December 2018. EMSA provides Europol with access to maritime and surveillance information services to support their staff activities in the areas of law enforcement and organised crime activities at sea via access to a comprehensive and up-to-date maritime awareness picture. The IMS historical track and ABM capabilities follow vessels of interest and support relevant investigations. The service also includes the use of satellite imagery products, available through the Copernicus Maritime Surveillance service, to detect and, when combined with vessel position information, identify vessels in areas of interest.
The Maritime Analysis and Operations Centre – Narcotics (MAOC (N)), co-funded by the Commission, provides a forum for multi-lateral cooperation to suppress illicit drug trafficking by sea and air. MAOC (N) is an initiative of 5 EU Member Countries: France, Ireland, Italy, Spain, Netherlands and Portugal. Operational from April 2007, the Centre officially opened on 30 September 2007 in Lisbon. They are staffed by police, customs, military, and maritime authorities of the participating MS, as well as by a permanent observer from the United States.
The global data coverage available via EMSA IMS-MAOC(N) assists in monitoring vessels of interest in the Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea, while also providing access to tools such as ABM, for detecting specific behaviour patterns and to the EMSA Maritime Analytics Tool (EMAT) for data analysis. The service also includes the use of satellite imagery products, available through the Copernicus Maritime Surveillance service to detect, and when combined with vessel position information, identify vessels in areas of interest.
MAOC (N) continues its contribution to the continuous improvement of EMSA maritime services by providing feedback on services delivered including being a beta tester for the IMS Long-Term Storage functionality. Additionally, MAOC (N) committed to provide operational service feedback reports where EMSA services were used to support MAOC(N) operations. Access to the service is granted by EMSA. There are 19 registered users of the EMSA IMS-MAOC (N) service.
IMS and anti-piracy
The EMSA IMS-EUNAVFOR Atalanta service allows the European Naval Forces-Somalia: Operation Atalanta to track merchant vessels in the High-Risk Area off the coast of Somalia since 2011. The service enhances the ability of counter-piracy forces to assess and manage the merchant vessels transiting across the Gulf of Aden. It also assists in incident management and improves the ability to warn merchant ships in imminent danger of piracy; ultimately improving the protection from piracy provided to all merchant shipping. EMSA functionalities have been adapted to fit the specific needs of the antipiracy community, taking the form of services that include vessel traffic monitoring, tools to identify specific movement patterns (ABMs), the integration of satellite imagery for detecting vessels and datasets to assist in risk analysis. In addition, a piracy assessment and the antipiracy measures taken on board the vessels in the High-Risk Area are integrated in this tailored antipiracy IMS for EUNAVFOR-Atalanta.
European Union Naval Force: Mediterranean - Operation IRINI (EUNAVFOR-MED: IRINI) was launched on 31 March 2020 with the aim of enforcing the United Nations arms embargo on Libya due to the Second Libyan Civil War and is a European Union military operation under the umbrella of the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP). EMSA supports EUNAVFOR-Med under a cooperation agreement to allow access to the relevant IMS services.