Baltic Marine Environment
Protection Commission

Illegal discharges under joint surveillance in the Baltic and North Seas

​​​​​​​Aircraft from six countries from Baltic Sea (HELCOM) and North Sea (Bonn) areas carried out a joint international aerial surveillance operation, classified until finish, with the purpose of detecting illegal discharges at sea starting on 9 June and completing yesterday. Photo: HELCOMThe operation hosted by the Danish Defence Command resulted with only one observation of a minor discharge of vegetable oil and another spot of an unknown substance detected in the 62,000 sq km operation area over Skagerrak and Kattegat during 42 total flight hours.  The 2015 Super CEPCO – Coordinated Extended Pollution Control Operation – was participated by Denmark, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Norway and Sweden. Such coordinated assignment is a regular biannual effort of the HELCOM member states, this time conducted jointly with the Bonn Agreement and with the Danish Defence Command Air Station Aalborg (EKYT) as a base. The purpose of the operation is to continuously survey the selected area where there is a high probability of illegal discharges, to identify, record, document and report the detected pollutions and polluters and to improve co-operation between participating HELCOM and Bonn​ Agreement Contracting Parties. High-intensity operations like CEPCO supplement the regular day-to-day aerial control operations in the region which aim at creating a realistic picture of the level of compliance to the anti-pollution regulations in the Baltic area.  Since the timing of the HELCOM CEPCOs is randomly selected, the operation is intense and strictly confidential until the entire operation is over, the results are assumed to reflect the realistic situation of discharges in the Baltic Sea. CEPCO operations have several objectives, such as to survey continuously high density traffic areas with a high risk of illegal discharges; identify and catch the polluters; practise communication between aircraft, patrol vessels and the Command Centres involved; improve cooperation between countries; and exchange experiences between crews. Crew members and support of Super Cepco 2015. Photo: Henning Jespersen-Skree * * *Note to Editors:HELCOM member states carry out several cross-border surveillance operations annually.  CEPCO flights (Mini CEPCO at least 12 hours; CEPCO at least 24 hours; Super CEPCO several days) contribute to the Baltic Sea marine protection according to HELCOM’s principles. The operation supports national aerial surveillance by detecting polluters who might not be otherwise identified. The intensity of CEPCOs enable a realistic estimation of the total number of oil spills over the Baltic Sea during a randomly selected time. In addition, helicopters and patrol vessels support the operation and EMSA CleanSeaNet oil spill detection service enable bigger area coverage and optimisation of flights effectiveness. The Informal working group on aerial surveillance ( ), as part of the HELCOM response cooperation is responsible for joint aerial surveillance as well as for co-ordination of the satellite based oil spill surveillance and evaluation of its results and operational effectiveness. * * *The Baltic Marine Environment Protection Commission, usually referred to as the Helsinki Commission (), is an intergovernmental organisation of the nine Baltic Sea coastal countries and the European Union working to protect the marine environment of the Baltic Sea from all sources of pollution and to ensure safety of navigation in the region. HELCOM is the governing body of the ‘Convention on the Protection of the Marine Environment of the Baltic Sea Area’, more commonly known as the Helsinki Convention. The is the mechanism by which nine governments of the Greater North Sea and its wider approaches, together with EU, cooperate in dealing with pollution of the North Sea by oil and other harmful substances. The signatories to the Agreement are Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, United Kingdom and the EU.  * * *For more information, please contact:Bent JørgensenRoyal Danish AirforceTel: +45 72 846507E-mail: Lars ChristensenAdmiral Danish Fleet HQE-mail: Laura MeskiAssisting Professional SecretaryHELCOMTel:  +358 40 1622053E-mail:

Only minor spill detected in the 42-hour aerial non-stop operation, participated by aircraft from six countries from Baltic Sea (HELCOM) and North Sea (BONN) areas.