The activities in the Unit are split in so-called Institutional Actions, each of them dealing with different transport surveillance areas.
Institutional Actions are covered by the budget of the European Commission, while competitive projects are funded by other market players both public and private. From an organisational point of view competitive projects always refer to an Institutional Action.
In the following paragraphs the main activities embraced by the actions and the projects are introduced.
FISHREG scientific staff assure the coordination of the STECF scientific advice process. STECF is the Commission's Scientific, Technical and Economic Committee for Fisheries and its advice is used as a basis for Commission proposals to the Council and the European Parliament. In addition to its coordination and administrative roles, FISHREG is providing scientific input to STECF and its thematic subgroups, and has been chairing selected meetings for which FISHREG has recognized in-house domain expertise.
VESCOSUR's activities are twofold. Scientific advice is provided on maritime situational awareness, using self reporting assets (Automatic Identification System - AIS, Satellite AIS, Vessel Monitoring System - VMS, Long Range Identification and Tracking - LRIT), non-cooperative sensors (Vessel Detection System based on satellite Synthetic Aperture Radar - SAR, ground based passive radar) and environmental data (meteorological, oceanographic and contextual data). Furthermore, support of operational-level Customs intelligence is provided through container monitoring and route-based risk analysis; upon request, scientific and technological advice on Risk Analysis and Container Security is provided.
MULTRA monitors the quantity and quality of the integrated data and identifies trends in both that can be reported to DG MOVE, the Transport Agencies and the concerned Member States. The JRC contributes to the drafting of new or reviewing existing legislation by providing feedback and recommendations to DG MOVE related to the collection, sharing and usage of safety data to improve transport safety.
Data gathering activities is a challenging task of all the actions.
FISHREG collects and maintains fisheries data reported by EU Member States in the framework of the Data Collection Framework (DCF) - previously it was the Data Collection Regulation (DCR). The new DCF framework, adopted in 2008, obliges Member States to provide access to these data for fisheries management advice, scientific publication, public debate and stakeholder participation in policy development. Challenges addressed by JRC in data collection include the development of quality assurance procedures, common codifications, and aggregation for analysis and assessments. Specifically for fishing effort management, FISHREG standardizes fleet-specific effort and catch data for most EU sea-basins to enable effective checks for compliance with agreed fishing effort reductions. This results in higher data quality and benefits policy-makers and scientific researchers alike.
VESCOSUR is involved in the collection and interpretation of maritime surveillance data to be used in several field, such as DG MARE's development of the Common Information Sharing Environment (CISE) for the EU maritime domain, technical advisory of BlueMassMed and Marsuno pilot projects and the Blue Hub data prototype platform for global, regional and local data collection, integration and analysis.
Furthermore, as regards container monitoring, data gathering ensures that the data resources of VESCOSUR are up to date holding the most recent movements of containers. The data gathering process is an automatic web-retrieval system that collects efficiently information on container movements from a number of web sources. Such data, referred to as container events, undergoes a cleaning process to check for inconsistencies, to improve its completeness and to enhance its quality. This activity, which was initially set-up with a target of 5% of the worldwide coverage, currently enables users to access about 35% of the global commercial containers’ traffic.
MULTRA provides tools, methods and services to collect, exchange and integrate accident and incident reports at a European level in all the three transport domains to the Transport Agencies and the Member States. In the aviation domain the ECCAIRS Reporting System (developed by the JRC) has become a standard tool worldwide, also recommended and used by the United Nations Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).
Security is a major topic in the unit.
With its research activities VESCOSUR contributes to the definition of Security in GMES (Global Monitoring for Environment and Security) and provides scientific and technical support to the development of GMES services for the implementation of the European Border Surveillance System EUROSUR.
Within the framework of the EU Common Security and Defence Policy, VESCOSUR runs two pilot projects on Piracy, Maritime Awareness and Risks focusing on the Horn of Africa (PMAR-HoA) and the Gulf of Guinea (PMAR-GoG). In container monitoring VESCOSUR collaborates with the US Energy Department in exchanging information on geographically-based risk factors, such as information on countries and ports. Contributions are also made to the Expert Support Facility (ESF), providing technological and risk assessment for critical maritime routes in the framework of the EU External Action's Instrument for Stability Programme.
There are economical implications of the work carried out in the unit.
As example, FISHREG collects annually and analyzes economic data on the profitability of the EU fishing fleet and the EU fish processing sector. It is instrumental in producing the Annual Economic Reports on the European Fishing Fleet (AER) and the European Fish Processing sector. Starting in 2011, it is expected that a similar report on the economics of the marine aquaculture sector will also be produced annually. Detailed overviews of data coverage and data quality form essential parts of the economic reports by FISHREG. To the extent that missing data allow it, the reports include information on EU level trends and drivers of change. In addition to providing information to policy makers, the Annual Economic Reports have proven to be useful for bio-economic modelling and for evaluating long-term management plans.