Maritime Affairs

Integrated maritime surveillance: The 'MARSUNO' pilot project delivered final results

Integrated maritime surveillance: The 'MARSUNO' pilot project delivered final results

Integrated maritime surveillance: The 'MARSUNO' pilot project delivered final results


Nine northern Member States together with Norway, and the Russian Federation under Swedish leadership finalised the 'MARSUNO' pilot project initiated by the European Commission. These partners make a number of recommendations for overcoming the hurdles to creating a Common Information Sharing Environment ('CISE') for the surveillance of the EU maritime domain.

Maritime Surveillance in the Northern Sea Basins – ('MARSUNO') - was a 24-month pilot project initiated by the EU Commission involving 9 Member States: Sweden as lead partner, Belgium, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland, in partnership with Norway, inviting Russia as an observer. In total 24 public authorities were involved. The project's objective was to support the creation of the 'CISE' by identifying practical solutions to overcome legal, technical and administrative hurdles to cross-sectorial and cross-border information sharing between maritime authorities. Indeed, 'CISE' is to become a legal, technical and cultural environment allowing for such information exchange between all relevant sectorial maritime authorities throughout the EU/EEA.

MARSUNO is one of two dedicated pilot projects that feed the Commission's six step Roadmap process towards establishing CISE. MARSUNO's recommendations are summarised as follows:

  • Legal provisions, both sectorial and horizontal, need to be adapted at EU and national level in view to allow for appropriate cross-sectorial and cross-border information exchange through CISE.
  • Technical aspects need to be solved in view to electronically interlink all relevant maritime systems and authorities explicitly avoiding the creation of new systems. Such technical work may involve developing common definitions, standards, procedures and semantics as well as establishing national CISE services improving the interoperability between systems and user communities within existing resources.
  • Establishing national CISE services (N-CISE) improving the interoperability between systems and user communities within existing resources.
  • Managing CISE should be kept lean but may nevertheless involve three levels:
    • an Advisory and Policy Board ('APB') (MS representatives), 
    • an Administrative Advisory Group (to support the above 'APB')
    • specific Action Working Groups ('ad hoc' for specific tasks).
  • Efficiency and cost effectiveness may be maximised by not only interlinking systems and authorities but by encouraging authorities to share their respective capabilities and to develop and share maritime information services, i.e a border-control inspection aircraft should be in a position to immediately report illegal fishing activities to partner authorities or vice versa
  • Cooperation between civilian and military authorities should be enhanced by several means (such as in the operation 'ATALANTA' fighting piracy in Indian Ocean).
  • EU Agencies should be involved in the CISE information exchange.
  • Common tools  and skills and competence enhancing measures should be deployed to promote trust and willingness for co-operation between user communities.
  • CISE should involve third countries outside the EU/EEA.

Sten Tolgfors, Swedish Minister for Defence commented on the results of the project: “The Swedish presidency 2009 focused on issues related to integrated maritime policy as well as integrated maritime surveillance. Developing these areas is and must be a key priority within the EU. The MARSUNO project has pointed out how such a cooperation and exchange of information can be shared between authorities and countries. Information sharing via existing structures instead of building new ones, gives us cost benefits and a more efficient maritime surveillance, a safer sea and environment.“

Maria Damanaki, Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, complemented the countries on their success: “I congratulate the Member States for their sustained effort and that they have demonstrated that data-sharing across borders and across sectors like maritime transport, environmental protection, customs, border guarding, fishery inspection, law enforcement and defence is possible and improves reaction capacity. Our objective is to ensure safer seas while saving costs – the results of this pilot will now feed into setting up the EU-wide Common Information Sharing Environment.”

MARSUNO concludes that establishing a functional and efficient CISE for all authorities acting in the European maritime domain is crucial for enhancing the efficiency and cost effectiveness of maritime surveillance. CISE will be a concrete and tangible outcome of Europe's Integrated Maritime Policy.