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Maritime safety: Community monitoring, control and information system for maritime traffic

This directive aims to establish a European Union (EU) vessel traffic monitoring and information system with a view to enhancing safety and minimising the environmental impact of shipping accidents.

ACT

Directive 2002/59/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 27 June 2002 establishing a Community vessel traffic monitoring and information system and repealing Council Directive 93/75/EEC [See amending act].

SUMMARY

This directive is part of the action taken in line with the Commission's second communication on maritime safety following the Erika disaster (the Erika II package).

Setting up a European Union (EU) vessel traffic monitoring and information system should help to prevent accidents and pollution at sea and to minimise their impact on the marine and coastal environment, and on the economy and health of local communities.

All ships of 300 gross tonnage and upwards are covered, whether or not they carry dangerous goods, except for:

  • warships;
  • fishing vessels, traditional ships and recreational craft less than 45 metres in length;
  • bunkers below 5 000 tons.

Ship reporting and monitoring

The operator of a ship bound for a port of an EU country must notify certain information (ship identification, total number of persons on board, port of destination, estimated time of arrival) to the port authority at least twenty-four hours in advance, where this is feasible.

The directive stipulates that ships built on or after 1 July 2002 and calling at a port of an EU country must be fitted with:

  • an automatic identification system (AIS), as well as
  • a voyage data recorder (VDR) system ("black box") to facilitate investigations following accidents.

EU countries have until the end of June 2007 to provide themselves with appropriate equipment and staff to utilise the AIS and VDR information and until the end of June 2008 to coordinate their national systems with those of the other EU countries.

The process of building up all necessary equipment and shore-based installations for implementing this directive must be completed by the end of 2007.

Notification of dangerous or polluting goods on board ships

In respect of the carriage of dangerous or polluting goods on board ships:

  • the shipper is required to deliver a declaration containing certain information (correct technical names of the dangerous or polluting goods, address from which detailed information on the cargo may be obtained) to the master or operator prior to taking the goods on board;
  • the operator, agent or master of a ship must also notify the general information, such as the ship identification and the information provided by the shipper, to the competent authority.

Monitoring of hazardous ships and intervention in the event of incidents and accidents at sea

EU countries which have been notified of the presence of hazardous ships (ships which have been involved in incidents or accidents at sea, have failed to comply with notification and reporting requirements, have deliberately discharged pollutants or have been refused access to ports) must transmit the information they have to the EU countries concerned.

EU countries must take all appropriate measures consistent with international law to deal with incidents or accidents at sea and to require the parties concerned (the operator, the master of the ship and the owner of the dangerous or polluting goods carried on board) to cooperate fully with them with a view to minimising the consequences of the incident.

In addition, the master of a ship must immediately report:

  • any incident or accident affecting the safety of the ship;
  • any incident or accident which compromises shipping safety;
  • any situation liable to lead to pollution of the waters or shore of a EU country;
  • any slick of polluting materials and containers or packages seen drifting at sea.

The directive provides for the possibility of ships being prevented from leaving or entering port in the event of poor weather conditions and obliges EU countries to set up places of refuge to accommodate ships in distress.

The Commission will look into the possibility of setting up a system to compensate ports accommodating ships in distress.

Accompanying measures

Ships entering the area of competence of a vessel traffic service must comply with any International Maritime Organisation (IMO) approved ships' routing systems, which cover sensitive areas, areas with a high traffic density and areas dangerous for shipping, and must use the vessel traffic services. EU countries must ensure that these facilities have the requisite human and technical resources to accomplish their tasks.

EU countries will have to cooperate to ensure the interconnection and interoperability of their national information systems, in order that the requisite information on the ship or its cargo can be exchanged electronically at any time.

Each EU country must designate the competent authorities, port authorities and coastal stations to which the notifications required by the directive are to be made.

Cooperation must be arranged between the Commission and the EU countries with a view to the future development of the European monitoring, control and information system for maritime traffic. It will cover the development of telematic links between coastal stations and port authorities, and extension of the coverage of the European monitoring system. Efforts must also be made to improve the management of shipping information, which is one of the tasks of the European Maritime Safety Agency.

To ensure the directive is being implemented satisfactorily, EU countries must make regular checks on the operation of their information systems and must introduce a system of financial penalties to act as a deterrent against failure to comply with the directive's requirements regarding notification and the carrying of equipment.

REFERENCES

ActEntry into forceDeadline for implementation in the Member StatesOfficial Journal

Directive 2002/59/EC

5.8.2002

5.2.2004

OJ L 49 of 24.2.2011

Amending act(s)Entry into forceDeadline for transposition in the Member StatesOfficial Journal

Directive 2011/15/EU

16.3.2011

16.3.2012

OJ L 49 of 24.2.2011

Last updated: 16.06.2011
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