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The Union Maritime Information and Exchange System (SafeSeaNet)

Date: 11/02/2015

The European Union's Maritime Information and Exchange System (SafeSeaNet) provides information on what is happening at sea.

It is the European platform for maritime data sharing, linking together authorities from across Europe, to become the core of all relevant maritime information tools. It is composed of a network of national systems in the Member States and a central system acting as a nodal point, hosted and operated by the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA). Apart from enhancing maritime safety, port and maritime security, environmental protection and pollution preparedness, the system allows for the exchange and sharing, in accordance with Union legislation, of additional information facilitating efficient maritime traffic and maritime transport.

To further enhance the situational awareness in the maritime domain and to provide tailor-made solutions to authorities, the 2002 vessel traffic monitoring Directive, (VTMIS Directive 2002/59/EC ), has been recently amended by Commission Directive 2014/100/EU , accommodating exchange, sharing, monitoring, surveillance, positioning and observation.

The European Union and EU Member States can use integrated maritime services to receive the maritime picture.

Maritime traffic needs to be monitored in order to avoid accidents at sea in the first place. In the event of an accident there is an immediate need for operational information. Authorities involved need to know what a vessel is carrying on board in order to take the best course of action to mitigate the accident; saving lives of crew and passengers and helping to reduce the potential impacts in terms of pollution to the environment.

For reasons of maximising efficiency and avoiding duplication of efforts, there is a need to build on existing national and Union platforms and on standardisation, reaping also the benefits of investments already made. The system has been developed to provide configurable services to users, fostering the exchange of data for the benefit of all authorities involved. The EU legislation therefore includes the requirement on Member States to develop and maintain the necessary technical interfaces for electronic data transmission to the SafeSeaNet. This will be further explored through the linking with the National Single Windows (where information is reported once and made available to the various competent authorities), once operational in 2015. Hence, under normal circumstances, the same maritime picture can be used for trade facilitation purposes as well as for enforcement and control purposes in the fields of customs, sea border control, health and general law enforcement.

Already now the integrated maritime services are used by other EU Agencies e.g. providing enhanced operational services in the areas of anti-piracy, fisheries campaign monitoring and border control on behalf of EU-NAVFOR, EFCA and FRONTEX, respectively. It is also supporting the objectives of MAOC-N, a platform for cooperation in the fight against illicit drug trafficking by sea across the Atlantic Ocean towards Europe and the West African Seaboard.

The services are also offered to all EU/EEA states, allowing them to make full use of the Union maritime information and exchange system and can be tailor-made for specific national purposes such as coastal radar or patrol assets. In future, users will also be able to access vessel behaviour patterns and meteorological and oceanographic data.

By developing the system and platform in this way it supports the facilitation and establishment of the maritime internal market – the European Maritime Transport Space without barriers while still maintaining safety, security and sustainability.

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