Surveillance of oil discharges

Finland is using two Dornier aircraft to monitor oil discharges from ships within Finnish EEZ - which is also the Finnish pollution response zone. Finnish Environment Institute (SYKE) is responsible for the surveillance of oil discharges together with the Finnish Border Guard.

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Photo: Finnish Border Guard

SYKE has equipped two Border Guard's Dornier 228 surveillance aircraft with SLAR and IR/UV scanner. The surveillance equipment enables the crew to have, even in darkness or in bad visibility, a real-time view of Finnish waters and possible foreign substances floating on water surface. When Border Guard is carrying out border patrol flights, they also survey for illegal oil discharges.

In addition to aerial surveillance,  also Navy and Border Guard vessels as well as merchant vessels inform about oil observations they make.

Finland is using also EMSA's CleanSeaNet satellite based monitoring service to detect oil pollution at sea.

The results of aerial surveillance

Finnish aerial surveillance detected 18 oil spills in 2015 and helicopters observed 2 spills.

In addition to aerial surveillance, the Finnish Border Guard and rescue services report oil spills in ports or close to shore. In 2015, Finnish authorities discovered 47 oil spills in total. As a rule, the spills were small in size.

oil spill observations 2015 map
 

On April 1st 2006 new legislation allowing Border Guard to issue an administrative fee to ships discharging oil in the waters under Finnish jurisdiction entered to force. The amount of the imposed fee is connected to the amount of discharged oil and the size of the vessel. The law does not define an upper limit to the fee.

Every year aerial surveillance efforts of Baltic Sea coastal states have detected altogether 178 to 763 spillages. However, this number does not represent the number of actual spills, because all Baltic Sea states do not yet have aircraft equipped for oil spill monitoring, and even those who do, cannot conduct 24-hour surveillance duties.

HELCOM estimates the average volume of bilge discharge to be about 0.5 to 1 m3. It has to be noted, that during the last couple of years the average estimated volume of detected oil spills has diminished significantly. For further information and statistics on the oil spill detections in the Baltic Sea are follow the link "HELCOM".

Published 2013-10-25 at 11:00, updated 2016-03-02 at 12:55