The latest marine oil spill surveillance operation carried out by Finland, Sweden and Estonia, did not detect any oils spills in the Northern Baltic Sea area, consistent with an observed trend of decreasing instances of oil spill detections in the area.
There were 122 reported oil spills detected in the Baltic Sea during 2011, according to statistics from Baltic Marine Environment Protection Commission (HELCOM), also known as the Helsinki Commission. The number of oil spill observations in the area has steadily declined since the 1980s due to regular surveillance work by HELCOM and improved legislation.
The goal is to completely eradicate illegal oil spills in the Baltic Sea by 2021. To this end, the three countries patrol the area for 3,500–4,000 flight hours a year
The operation, coordinated by HELCOM, saw surveillance aircraft from the three countries carrying out enhanced patrol flights over northern Baltic Sea shipping routes for around 12 hours.
The aircraft are kitted out with the latest surveillance equipment which can detect oil spills up to 30 kilometres away, as well as identify ships several kilometres away, from the flight route.
Satellite images are also used to monitor the area, which are provided by the European Maritime Safety Agency's (EMSA) CleanSeaNet service.