Sri Lanka's Satellite Surveillance Initiative Nets First Oil Spill Offender

February 19, 2024


Sri Lanka's environmental protection efforts, the Marine Environment Protection Authority (MEPA) announced the detection and penalization of the first oil spill incident in Sri Lankan waters through satellite surveillance collaboration with the French government.

On February 5, analysts from CLS, the French company overseeing the initiative, flagged a substantial oil pollution occurrence off the Sri Lankan coast. The pollution stemmed from an illegal discharge by the Global Crest, a 120-meter tanker en route from Malaysia to the UAE. 

Following immediate action, MEPA conducted an onboard inspection of the vessel, confirming evidence of the illegal discharge. The vessel was detained until the owner confessed to the offense and agreed to pay the maximum fine of Rs. 15 million, in accordance with national regulations.

Situated strategically at the southern tip of the Indian subcontinent, Sri Lanka faces heightened risks of pollution from accidental spills and illicit discharges due to its location along major Indian Ocean shipping routes.

Under the OSDS initiative, funded by the French government, Sri Lanka partnered with CLS to deploy satellite technology for oil pollution detection. This initiative, already successful in Europe with the Cleanseanet service operated by the European Maritime Safety Authority (EMSA), has significantly reduced pollution incidents in European waters over the past decade.
Since September 2023, CLS has provided over 100 detection reports to MEPA, demonstrating the efficacy of satellite technologies in combating marine pollution.