There are almost 300 vessels coming into UK ports on a daily basis, and they all have to record their details in a single ICT system called “CERS”. That’s the consolidated European reporting system, and it handles an immense amount of data on everything from how many people are onboard, to the amount of oily rags they’re disposing at port!
Dealing with the administration of this data colossus is the MCA’s maritime surveillance team, who spend their days delving into the depths of this information goldmine and liaising with port agents and vessel masters to ensure the data provided is of the highest quality.
Establishing good working relationships with the CERS users - like harbour masters and port agents - is a top priority for the maritime surveillance team, so last year we went on tour and paid them all a visit! Since some changes were being made to the reporting system, these were presented as part of an informative workshop – followed by an open forum for users to have a general discussion and Q&A session with the maritime surveillance team.
The tour took us all over the UK - Belfast, Aberdeen, Blyth, Cardiff, Bristol, Milford Haven - and it was a great opportunity to meet CERS users in their own environment and chat face-to-face about the ins-and-outs of data reporting… as well as take in the sights and sounds of the glorious British coastline - by plane, train and automobile!
Given the sheer amount of data the CERS system contains, it is not surprising that external organisations are beginning to show a keen interest in gaining access to the information – and the MCA is working on options to make this possible. It looks set to be a bright and busy future for CERS and the maritime surveillance team!