Boost for UK pollution 'eyes in sky'

Sentinel 1 Image copyright ESA/ATG medialab
Image caption The European Maritime Safety Agency uses a network of satellites which alerts coastguards

The EU is investing more money in anti-pollution measures which led to the first prosecution by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency using satellite images.

The European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) will get £160.5m euros over seven years to combat marine pollution, the European Parliament said.

The MCA which used EMSA images in the prosecution, welcomed the move.

EMSA uses three satellites to detect "ship source pollution".

Image copyright MCA
Image caption Maersk Tankers Singapore was fined for allowing the discharge of palm oil within 12 miles of the UK coast
Image copyright EmSA/MCA
Image caption The trail of palm oil was visible from satellite pictures
Image copyright MCA
Image caption The course of the Maersk Kiera is shown in the black line and the palm oil discharge in brown
Image copyright www.aphotomarine.com
Image caption Palm oil pollution has blighted beaches from Cumbria to Worthing

Last October Truro Crown Court heard how an EMSA satellite detected a ship trailing a slick in the waters between Land's End and the Scilly Isles.

The ship was identified as the Singapore-registered tanker Maersk Kiera, and the MCA was alerted.

The discharge of palm oil, which was being cleared from the ship's tanks, was illegal because it was within 12 miles of land.

Maersk Tankers Singapore was fined £15,000, and ordered to pay £7,400 costs and a £120 victim surcharge.

Palm oil has been found washed up around the UK's west and south coasts, with sightings as far afield as Cumbria to Worthing.

It has also been blamed by vets for the death of a dog and the illness of many others which were found to have eaten the white waxy substance after it washed up on beaches in Cornwall.

The MCA said it received an average of 55 images per month in 2013 from EMSA and all alerts were investigated, but there had been no further prosecutions.

It said: "Any funding that will boost capability to combat pollution is always welcomed."

EMSA said that since 2007 about 200 illegal discharges had been confirmed a year in EU seas thanks to satellite images.

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