Drones Deployed for MARPOL Enforcement on Bosporus

File image courtesy solarthermienator / flickr

By MarEx 2016-02-05 19:29:00

The Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality's Marine Services Directorate will soon begin using drones to monitor the Bosporus for maritime pollution.

The Directorate issued 2.8 million lira in fines to ship operators last year, equivalent to about one million dollars, for marine pollution violations related to solid and liquid waste discharges. 90 ships out of the approximately 55,000 that passed through the Bosporus were fined, the Directorate said.

Their round-the-clock enforcement effort relies on multiple methods: patrol vessels, helicopter surveys and inspection of ships pierside and queued waiting to dock.

“When pollution . . . is detected, then it is photographed . . . [and] samples are obtained," said Mustafa Tahmaz, head of the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality Environmental Protection and Control Department, in statements to Turkish media Thursday. "The samples are analyzed and if the relevant ship is causing pollution above standard levels . . . then a penalty is imposed on the ship based on its size.”

Tahmaz said that the Department's Marine Services Directorate will soon add drones to the list of enforcement assets: staff are already being trained in their use, and the Directorate hopes to begin operations in March.

Istanbul's environmental regulators are the latest in a growing number of agencies pursuing the use of drones for maritime purposes, such as maritime domain awareness, hull and offshore inspections, naval reconnaissance, and Emissions Control Area enforcement.

ECA enforcement is the closest analogue to Istanbul’s plan. Last year, the European Safety Monitoring Agency (EMSA) and the European Space Agency (ESA) jointly announced a pilot project for a remotely piloted maritime surveillance aircraft – and, potentially, for at-sea SOx emissions detection. The program will evaluate the Tekever AR5 drone, a maritime UAV with a 14 foot wingspan and a 110 pound payload, and may add testing of a sensor package for remote measurement of SOx emissions..