Maritime transport enables trade and contacts between all the European nations and provides the main vehicle for European imports and exports to the rest of the world. Almost 90% of the EU external freight trade is seaborne, while short sea shipping represents 40% of intra-EU exchanges in terms of ton-kilometers. The quality of life on islands and in peripheral maritime regions depends on good maritime transport services. Each year, more than 400 million passengers embark and disembark in European ports. Overall, maritime industries are an important source of employment and income for the European economy. The JRC supports the European Commission in its effort to improve maritime safety and security by developing systems to improve maritime surveillance capabilities and to collect information about maritime accidents.
Maritime surveillance is essential for creating maritime awareness ('knowing what is happening at sea'). With its competencies in space technologies and data fusion, the JRC helps to strengthen the EU capabilities in maritime surveillance, by contributing to the development of the European Border Surveillance System (EUROSUR) and the Common Information Sharing Environment (CISE) for the EU maritime domain, and by investigating maritime surveillance solutions e.g. in the fight against piracy off Africa.
The European Marine Casualty Information Platform
The JRC, together with the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA), has developed the European Marine Casualty Information Platform (EMCIP) system, where since 2011 all marine accidents involving Member States ships or occurring in territorial waters of an EU country need be registered, according to the Directive 2009/18/EC on governing the investigation of accidents in the maritime transport sector.
The database allows for the storage, exchange and analysis of data on marine casualties and incidents. The shared use of those data will further develop the accident investigation capabilities of EU member states and contribute to improve maritime safety and the prevention of pollution by ships.
The EMCIP system, managed by EMSA, is built on top of the ECCAIRS Common Framework (ECF), a software platform developed by the JRC for reporting and sharing accident and incident reports.
Monitoring container traffic and analysing risk
Millions of containers travel every year by sea, transporting the bulk of traded goods. Detecting suspicious shipments from customs fraud (e.g. evasion of import or antidumping duties) or from a safety and security viewpoint (e.g. terrorism and various criminal activities) are difficult tasks for the authorities involved. The JRC's ConTraffic research project is developing a system that can support authorities in this task by improving their situation awareness capacity and providing them with additional risk indicators derived from the actual routes followed by the containers. The value of the ConTraffic system is already demonstrated in various pilot projects.
Blue boat close to a port.
Maritime safety and security