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IWGAS-2019 participants in front of the new Estonian surveillance plane in Tallinn on 21 March 2019. The plane is used to track both accidental spills and illegal discharges at sea. © HELCOM


Improving surveillance of spills and discharges at sea was a main subject at the Annual Meeting of the HELCOM Informal Working Group on Aerial Surveillance (IWGAS 2019) that was held in Tallinn, Estonia from 20 to 21 March 2019.

In Tallinn, the HELCOM members presented their respective national surveillance activities and finalised their work on the 2018 edition of the HELCOM Annual report on discharges observed during aerial surveillance in the Baltic Sea.

To ensure a more efficient surveillance of the Baltic Sea, IWGAS 2019 notably agreed to update the coverage requirements of satellite imagery. 

Aerial surveillance is key for responding to discharges at sea of hazardous substances such as oil or chemicals, regardless of being accidental or intentional.

“Aerial surveillance coupled to the Automatic Identification System (AIS) that tracks vessel movements is an efficient way to monitor illegal discharges at sea,” said Markus Helavuori, the HELCOM Professional Secretary in charge of maritime affairs, adding that “regular aerial surveillance can be very dissuasive.”

 At IWGAS 2019, Estonia also presented its new surveillance plane, a Beechcraft King Air B350ER that is in operation since July 2018.

The meeting took place at the premises of the Ministry of the Interior of Estonia and of the Estonian Police and Border Guard Aviation Group.


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For more information:

Markus Helavuori
HELCOM Professional Secretary in charge of maritime affairs
markus.helavuori@helcom.fi