ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s Marine Environment Protection Authority (MEPA) signed a Memorandum of Understanding with French satellite group Collecte Localisation Satellites (CLS) today (12) to deploy satellites to detect oil spills into the sea around Sri Lanka.
The satellite based oil spill monitoring system is a pilot project by CLS, and will be funded by 600,000 euro from the French government.
“The ocean regulates our climate and supports sectors like tourism, fishing and international shipping,” French Ambassador Jean-François Pactet said.
The ambassador said the project was funded by a grant from the French Ministry of the Economy and will help Sri Lanka gain expertise in the fight against marine pollution through the use of cutting-edge technologies.
The oil spill monitoring system was a step forward in enacting France’s Treaty of the High Seas, a national commitment to the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity, the French ambassador said.
The project includes training and capacity building of officers.
Satellite imaging is not limited to oil spill monitoring.
“Using this technology you have the ability to detect vessels on the maritime domain. One very interesting application is fighting against illegal fishing,” Olivier Germain, Project Manager, CLS, said.
“Even if they switch off all their equipment to declare their position, you can see them. They are suspicious vessels you may want to inspect.”
“There are also other applications. These kinds of images have the ability to provide measurements of the maritime environments. You can measure parameters like surface wind, waves, swells and sea surface currents.
“You can do charting of the coastal environments from urban developments, to agriculture, or forestry. You can do maps in time, and detect changes in a very precise manner,” Germain said.
CLS’ Maritime Surveillance and Safety Director David Bajouco said that a similar system deployed has been used in Europe by the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA).
“They have been operating a similar system for almost 15 years now, and the results that have been achieved have been quite tremendous.”
Sri Lanka witnessed two large scale marine disasters within nine months since September 2020: Both the MT New Diamond, a large crude carrier and the X-press Pearl MV with large amounts of chemicals that caught fire off the coast of Sri Lanka.
An analysis of its cargo manifest revealed that the MV X-Press was transporting hazardous materials including 25 tonnes of Nitric Acid, according to the International Maritime Hazardous Goods Regulation (IMDG regulation).
Appearing before parliament in July, Justice Minister Wijedasa Rajapaksa said that Sri Lanka has filed cases in Singapore courts seeking 22.1 million US dollars for damages to the marine environment and 273.014 million US dollars for livelihood losses to fishermen.
India has sought 495.3 million Indian rupees from Sri Lanka as the cost for firefighting operations, which was 1941.5 million in Sri Lankan rupees. (Colombo/Sep12/2023)