Information Technology | Wednesday, 12 March 2008
The Vessel Traffic Management Information System (VTMIS) and the Digital CCTV Security Infrastructure projects were today formally introduced to the industry and the public at large during the visit by the Minister for Competitiveness and Communications at the Maritime Trade Centre, Marsa.
The Ports and Coastal VTMIS project that was procured and implemented by the Malta Maritime Authority, cost €3.5 million whilst the CCTV project cost €400,000. Both projects were part funded by EU.
VTMIS is mandatory to commercial shipping and the port community through international and EU legislation. The VTMIS is complemented by the electronic port notification and ship clearance system (Portnet Malta) that operates over the internet. All players within the port community, including terminal operators and other service providers, have access to the Portnet Malta on a need to know basis.
The Malta Maritime Authority is the designated VTS Authority in Malta. The Armed Forces of Malta is the designated Coastal VTS station whilst the Ports VTS is managed by the Ports Directorate of the MMA. Both stations, one located at AFM Headquarters Luqa and the Ports VTS at Marsa have the capacity for the exchange of information. The VTS replaces the previous service provided by the Palace Tower Signal Station, commonly known as Turretta.
The objective of the VTMIS, which includes an Automatic Identification System (AIS), is primarily aimed to monitor shipping and to provide vessel traffic management to shipping within the national waters and in ports.
The Malta Port and Coastal Vessel Traffic Services involved the setting up of a network of eight radars (one of which was already being used by AFM), automatic identification system stations, VHF communications, VHF direction finders and weather stations around the Maltese islands. This system provides MMA and AFM with the means to monitor and manage, on a 24x7 basis, ports and coastal vessel traffic respectively and automatically sends ship notifications to the European Maritime Safety Agency through the national Safe Sea Net system, which is obligatory to all EU member states, with Malta being one of the first to implement this system.
This surveillance equipment also helps to curtail illegal activities at sea, as well as to assist the authorities during search and rescue operations and dealing with illegal immigration. It is also aimed to enhance the safety and security and increase efficiency of maritime traffic within the ports, approaches and territorial waters of Malta. This is a key factor to ensuring the continued growth of the maritime industry in Malta which will see even more shipping coming into and out of our ports.
The Digital CCTV Security System remotely monitors selected port areas and their approaches for the purposes of enhancing maritime and ports security, law enforcement and safety.
The digital CCTV security monitoring system comprises 12 cameras linked via a wireless network to a newly built control room at the MMA's Maritime Trade Centre in Marsa to monitor six ports in Malta and Gozo namely Marsaxlokk, Grand Harbour, Marsamxett, St Paul's Bay (Bugibba), Cirkewwa and Mgarr. The digital CCTV system was implemented under Malta's European Regional Development Fund programme 2004-6, where the EU financed 75% and complies with requirements of the Data Protection Act and it principally monitors port approaches, port waters and fairways, port terminals, public marinas, quays, jetties, wharves and breakwaters.
Former Minister Censu Galea stated that Malta being a coastal state is through international legislation obliged to monitor shipping in its national waters not only with the aim to provide traffic management but also to be in a position to consistently monitor shipping activities and to determine whether any incident or pollution threats exists.
Galea perceived this important project as being another milestone in the further enhancing the already excellent maritime reputation of the Maltese islands. He also referred to the current project embarked upon by the MMA through an EEA Norway financial instrument that shall consist of a risk assessment of the islands relating to pollution and the procurement of initial Tier Three pollution response equipment.
Addressing the media, MMA Chairman Dr Marc Bonello said, “the implementation of these two new projects is in line with the MMA's duty to ensure security and safety for maritime and shipping operators. In fact, the Vessel Traffic Management Information System is used primarily for the monitoring of over 16,000 vessels arriving and departing Maltese ports, waiting areas and bunkering areas outside port every year. It is also used to monitor inter-island ferry traffic and other vessels operating within coastal waters. In addition it is used for border control as well as for search and rescue purposes by the AFM. The digital CCTV system supports this service and ensures specific monitoring of Malta's major harbours and bays.”
“Malta has and will continue to do its part to meet its international obligations and to provide reassurance to the growing number of operators in the maritime sector. Building on the experience with this first national maritime security system, the Authority has plans for a much larger EU funded project to further enhance, add and integrate systems to improve monitoring, detection and intelligence capabilities for the purposes of maritime security and safety,” added Dr Bonello.
12 March 2008
ISSUE NO. 526