Few Oil Spills in the Baltic Sea Observed by Non-Stop Surveillance Operation
9 May 2012 (HELCOM Information Service) – Four illegal discharges of oil from ships were detected during the HELCOM’s intense aerial surveillance operation conducted on 7-9 May over the north eastern part of the Baltic Sea Proper and the western part of the Gulf of Finland. The details of the operation remained classified until the last plane landed this morning in order to prevent possible offenders from discovering the surveillance activities.
Four aircraft from Estonia, Finland, Poland and Sweden continuously surveyed for 35 hours the agreed area for signs of oil pollution. A Swedish patrol boat was prepared to make on-board investigations of any ships found to be illegally discharging oil.
This year, the HELCOM’s CEPCO North operation was organised by the Swedish Coast Guard and the base airport was in Visby. Remote sensing equipment, such as side looking radars (SLAR), infrared (IR) and ultraviolet (UV) cameras, were used during the operation. Also satellite images of the flight area provided by the European Maritime Safety Agency’s CleanSeaNet service were used to support the operation.
“The spills detected were vegetable oil and no mineral oil spills were observed,” says Mr. Yngve de Bourg, Operative Coordinator in charge of HELCOM’s CEPCO North this year. “Despite the four spills spotted during this year’s operation, the trend of decreasing spills in the Baltic Sea is encouraging. The operation was a success and I want to thank all the participants for their work.”
According to the latest national annual reports provided by the Member States to HELCOM, the number of deliberate, illegal oil discharges from ships observed by national surveillance planes and satellites over the Baltic Sea area in 2011 decreased by more than 18% compared to 2010 and 75% compared to 1999. In total 122 illicit oil spills were detected during a total of 5,541 hours of surveillance flights during 2011. This compares to 149 discharges during a total of 4,297 air patrol hours in 2010 and 488 discharges during 4,883 air patrol hours in 1999.
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Note to Editors:
CEPCOs (Coordinated Extended Pollution Control Operation) enable a realistic estimation of the total number of oil spills discharged into the Baltic Sea during a randomly selected period.
Typically, two CEPCOs are arranged annually by HELCOM in the Baltic Sea: one in the south and one in the north. During CEPCO flights several HELCOM countries jointly carry out continuous aerial surveillance activities for 24 hours or more along the predetermined routes in areas where operational spills are likely. Every second year, SuperCEPCO operation is conducted during which the selected area is surveyed for a longer period of time. CEPCO flights also support national aerial surveillance data by detecting illegal discharges which would not be disclosed by routine national surveillance activities.
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The Baltic Marine Environment Protection Commission, usually referred to as the Helsinki Commission (HELCOM), is an intergovernmental organisation of the nine Baltic Sea coastal countries and the European Union working to protect the marine environment of the Baltic Sea from all sources of pollution and to ensure safety of navigation in the region.
HELCOM is the governing body of the "Convention on the Protection of the Marine Environment of the Baltic Sea Area," more usually known as the Helsinki Convention.
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For further information, please contact:
Mr. Hermanni Backer
Tel: +358 (0)46 8509199
Fax: +358 (0)207 412 645
Ms. Johanna Laurila
Tel: +358 (0)40 5238988
Fax: +358 (0)207 412 639