In 2019 our coast guard partner Management Unit of the Mathematical Model of the North Sea flew a total of 246 hours on missions to observe the North Sea from the air. They do so with their own aircraft of the Britten Norman Islander type. This aerial surveillance is very useful for a number of reasons: to track down oil spills or other types of marine pollution, to contribute to a recognized maritime picture in case of a contingency at sea, to assist with fishery control and to follow-up on the number of marine mammals. Last year, MUMM operators observed 13 instances of discharges by vessels at sea, carried out important censuses of marine mammals and kept track of the activities in the offshore windparks.
Furthermore, the MUMM aircraft carried out a number of 'sniffer-flights', to see if the limits for sulphur emission are respected. The aircraft is equipped with a sniffer sensor, a sort of sulphur-sniffing device. When the aircraft flies through a plume of smoke coming from a certain vessel, the sensor measures the level of sulphur present. In case the level is too high, maritime inspection services ashore are alerted for a further follow-up. Last year, of the 1241 vessels that were inspected at sea, 51 showed suspiciously high sulphur values in their exhaust plumes. Belgium is one of the few countries performing such monitoring. For more information, see this video on the monitoring of sulphur emissions.
Last but not least, the plane successfully participated in an internationally coordinated surveillance mission of the oil and gas installations in the central part of the North Sea.