EMSA, the European Maritime Safety Agency, has been founded in the aftermath of the catastrophes with the Erika and the Prestige and is a European Union agency charged with reducing the risk of maritime accidents, marine pollution from ships and the loss of human lives at sea by helping to enforce the pertinent European Community legislation.
EMSA 'inspects the inspectors' of classification societies, assesses Port State Control systems, tracks problem ships, and safeguards the standards of on-board equipment. For example, EMSA recently developed the THETIS tool to support the New Inspection Regime for Port State Control of the Paris Memorandum of Understanding.
EMSA provides ships to help Europe better respond to major oil spills, satellite images to identify polluting vessels, and ensures ships comply with environmental rules. The Agency's marine environmental expertise covers areas such as ballast water management, port waste reception facilities and anti-fouling coatings for vessels.
Shipping accidents happen. And when they do, accident investigation can help identify problems, and to learn lessons that may prevent accidents in future. EMSA manages the EU's EMCIP database for sharing marine accident investigation information, and is helping to improve standards in accident investigation across coastal states. Since 2007, EMSA has also published an annual Maritime Accident Review.27
EMSA's SafeSeaNet system offers Member States information to track the 20 000 or so commercial ships that are in and around European waters at any given time. The LRIT system offers the possibility to track European ships worldwide.
Roughy half of EMSA's budget is focused on pollution preparedness and response activities. In particular, the Agency offers a network of contracted oil pollution response vessels. Spread across the European coastline, these vessels can be called upon by Member States in case of a major oil spill at sea. (http://www.emsa.europa.eu/)