In a roadmap, the Commission spells out how to bring together relevant Member States' authorities across all maritime sectors to allow for the exchange of maritime surveillance data, held by authorities such as coast guards, traffic monitoring, environmental monitoring, pollution prevention, fisheries, border control, tax and general law enforcement authorities, as well as navies.
This increased cooperation would also help cope more efficiently with real time events at sea. The 'Roadmap towards establishing the Common Information Sharing Environment ('CISE') for the surveillance of the EU maritime domain', is an initiative under the EU's Integrated Maritime Policy, which advocates an integrated approach to the management and governance of the oceans, seas and coasts, and fosters interaction between all sea-related policies in the EU.
Maria Damanaki, Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, said: "The integration of Maritime Surveillance will give us the right tool to protect our maritime interests against all types of threats, cope more efficiently with real time events at sea, like accidents and oil spills and improve our prevention and response capacities".
EU countries carry out maritime surveillance and will continue doing so. However, various surveillance authorities across Europe have insufficient access to each other's information. Integrating maritime surveillance would present a number of benefits across the EU. Search and rescue authorities will swiftly avail of better information when people's lives are in danger at sea.
Coast guards, police and navies may share information to better prevent and combat all kinds of illegal activities at sea or to protect merchant ships and fishing boats from attacks and other threats at sea. Environmental and pollution prevention and response authorities may share information with maritime traffic authorities or coast guards allowing to better prevent, intercept or clean-up different pollution types at sea.
Electronic maritime information exchange across sectors and borders shall be supported by a digital system of data exchange based on modern and secured means of telecommunication.
Increased effectiveness and cost efficiency in ensuring the fundamental conditions for safe, secure and sustainable activities at sea are vital for supporting sound economic growth, given that 90 per cent of Europe's external trade is carried out at sea, the EU's fishing fleet accounts for some 84 000 vessels and the EU's maritime regions for some 40 per cent of its GDP and population.
The Roadmap proposes establishing the CISE network in the following six steps:
- Identifying all user communities
- Mapping of data sets and analysis of gaps for data exchange
- Defining common data classification levels
- Developing the supporting framework for the CISE
- Defining access rights
- Providing a coherent legal framework
These six steps form a basis for further action. Cooperation pilot-projects are already taking place, and a full system of information sharing between the different maritime surveillance systems could be in place by 2014.
The Roadmap has been validated by EU Member States during an extensive consultation. It is a follow-up to the first Commission Communication of October 2009 on this subject, as requested by the Council in November 2009. It shall be fine-tuned by the end 2011 on the Council's request.