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Brexit: UK coastguard 'very worried' about loss of access to EMSA satellite services

Updated February 28, 2017 (21:08)

The UK will only be able to replace European Union ship safety and environmental satellite services at great cost, the executive director of the European Maritime Safety Agency has warned.

Replacing the services provided by the European Maritime Safety Agency would be a major task for the UK after Brexit, says executive director Markku Mylly.

"There are people in the UK coastguard who are very worried about this," Mr Mylly tells the Maritime Watch. "The ship safety and environment services that we provide are given free of charge to Member States. If the UK was just cut off after Brexit, the cost of building up replacement capacity would be large. It would be very expensive to replace."

EMSA provides a range of ship tracking services including SafeSeaNet and CleanSeaNet. The Lisbon-based agency takes raw data from EU Sentinel satellites and buys data from commercial satellites. EMSA processes up to 300,000 images a year.

EMSA images of spills are now accepted by the UK courts as evidence, says Mr Mylly. The satellite services monitor all commercial shipping around Europe's coasts, helping coastguards track smugglers and prevent pollution.

"Building up the same capacity would be very difficult for the UK," says the executive director. The EU is in the process of analysing the impact of the UK's departure on all EU agencies, he says.

EMSA is about to launch its first drone services, which will also be provided to national capitals free of charge. Small drones will be use to monitor emissions from ships before the summer, while larger drones with an operating radius of 500 km will be used to monitor migrants crossing the Mediterranean.

Mr Mylly was talking on the sidelines of an industry conference in Brussels.

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© EU Official Journal

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