We are doing science for policy
The Joint Research Centre (JRC) is the European Commission's science and knowledge service which employs scientists to carry out research in order to provide independent scientific advice and support to EU policy.
Maritime surveillance is essential for creating maritime awareness ('knowing what is happening at sea'). With its competencies in space technologies and data fusion, the JRC contributes to the implementation of the Integrated Maritime Policy, in particular related to Integrated Maritime Surveillance. Support is provided by responding to the needs of a wide range of maritime policies - irregular migration/border control, maritime security, fisheries control, anti-piracy, oil pollution, smuggling etc. Also the global dimension of these policies is addressed, e.g. to help detect unlawful activities in international waters. Research is undertaken to develop novel methods for addressing existing capability gaps, such as the tracking of small boats. The Blue Hub is the JRC in-house platform to perform research in the fields of maritime surveillance and Maritime Situational Awareness (MSA).
The European Border Surveillance System (EUROSUR), which became operational in December 2013, represents a mechanism for EU Member States' authorities responsible for border surveillance, such as border guards, coast guards, police, customs and navies, to share operational information and cooperate with the EU border security agency Frontex and with neighbouring third countries. The JRC provides technical support for the development of EUROSUR services with the aim of reinforcing the control of the European southern maritime borders. In this context, the JRC also provides technological support on the Copernicus programme (the European Earth Observation Programme) for the maritime domain.
Currently, EU and national authorities responsible for different aspects of maritime surveillance – such as border control, safety and security, fisheries control, customs, environment or defence – collect data separately and often do not share them between each other. The Common Information Sharing Environment for the EU maritime domain (CISE), currently under development, will ensure effective data exchange between maritime authorities across sectors and across borders so that information is available for their missions at sea. The JRC provides technical support to the Commission’s DG Maritime Affairs and Fisheries in allowing the ICT systems of more than 400 different European authorities to exchange maritime surveillance data, while ensuring a tight control over the management of access rights.
As part of the EU Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) building regional maritime capacities and countering piracy off Africa, the JRC has – in the context of the projects on Piracy, Maritime Awareness and Risks (PMAR) – studied technologies intended to build up maritime awareness for use by authorities in piracy affected regions. A prototype software has been developed to track all the merchant ship traffic in wide ocean areas, for use in regional operations centres. The software has been piloted off East Africa and in the Gulf of Guinea. These activities are undertaken under the umbrella of EU development funds (DG DEVCO) and are coordinated with the European External Action Service (EEAS), regional and international organisations and other global actors.