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EMSA to receive €160.5m funding to combat marine pollution

Funds to be used to maintain EU network of specialised anti-pollution vessels and to invest in satellite technology.



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Updated on 16 Apr 2014 16:34 GMT

The European Parliament has adopted a financial package of €160.5 million for a period of over seven years (2014-2020) for the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) to continue its work in combatting marine pollution.

In a statement, the European Commision (EC) said: "This vote follows an informal agreement reached with the Council in March and shows the support and confidence in the European system to combat pollution at sea established in EMSA. This system, which has proven its added-value and cost-efficiency, relies on satellite services to detect pollution and a network of specialised anti-pollution vessels available to Member States to recover pollutants."

Siim Kallas, Vice-President responsible for Transport remarked: "The European system to combat pollution at sea has proven its added-value and cost-efficiency. I welcome the European Parliament's continued support for the effective work carried out by the European Maritime Safety Agency."

The funds from the Union's transport budget will allow continued detection, monitoring and cleaning up of spills from ships and for phase-in activities to fight spills from oil and gas installations given the extended mandate of the EMSA following the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

EMSA's assistance may also be granted to third countries sharing a regional sea basin with the Union. For the first time, Member States are responsible for notifying the EC on the equipment they maintain and to which the Union's equipment comes as an additional top up. In 2017, the EC will present a mid-term evaluation of the Agency’s ability to fulfil its extended mandate to combat pollution in an effective and cost-efficient manner and will propose, if necessary, an adjustment to a maximum of 8% of the multiannual financial envelope.

Background

The funds are intended to maintain an EU-wide network of specialised anti-pollution vessels which strengthen the capability of vessels operated by the Member States to respond to oil pollution. This system of "EU reserve for disasters", which the EMSA places at the disposal of Member States affected by a major spill, comprises equipment for recovering pollutants from the sea (e.g. sweeping arms).

In parallel, the EU funds will continue supporting the system of satellite imaging that has been developed to detect ship source pollution in close to real time (CleanSeaNet) and which underpins efforts by the Member States to prevent illegal discharges and accidental spillages of oil.

The next steps

Following the vote in the European Parliament, the Council is expected to endorse the regulation as adopted by Parliament, in accordance with the agreement reached between the two institutions in March 2014. By having those funds for this specific activity over a seven-year period, EMSA can conclude multi-annual contracts for the required equipment and services which is kept on standby in order to address incidents in the waters of individual Member States or in sea basins with neighbouring countries which cannot combat large pollution on their own.

Facts and figures

Since 2007, EMSA pollution response services have been used during 25 incidents including four mobilisations of "response vessels" in Europe as well as one equipment assistance package to the USA during the Deepwater Horizon incident in the Gulf of Mexico. Emergency support to affected coastal states has included "response vessels", satellite imagery, MAR-ICE activation (Marine Intervention in Chemical Emergencies Network) in relation to chemicals, and onsite expertise.

To date, CleanSeaNet represents:

- Over 12,000 satellite images delivered since the service was launched in April 2007, an average of over 2000 images per year.

- Over 1,000 million km2 monitored seas and oceans.

- Around 200 illegal discharges per year confirmed by Member States following "on the spot" surveillance and resulting in a downward trend in deliberate discharges in some European sea basins.

To date, the Network of Stand-by Oil Spill Response Vessels comprises:

- 18 vessels, with an average recovered oil storage capacity of approximately 3,500 m3 (with a total recovery capacity of approximately 50,000 m3 and providing coverage for all the regional sea basins around the European Union, which can be mobilised simultaneously and be ready to sail within 24 hours.

- The EMSA vessels have participated in 60 international (cross-border) operational exercises since 2007 to facilitate the integration of EMSA services in the response mechanisms of Member States.






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