The sinking of the oil tanker "Erika" off the French coast in 1999 is known as one of France's worst environmental catastrophes. Thousands of tons of oil leaked into the sea, killing marine life and polluting hundreds kilometres of the French Atlantic coast.
Following the disaster, the European Union took action to prevent such large-scale accidents and marine pollution from happening in the future. Chief among them was establishing the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA). The body is responsible for setting-up and operating the new vessel traffic monitoring system, SafeSeaNet, which became fully operational in 2009.
How does it work? Michael Risley, Project officer at the European Maritime Safety Agency (EFCA), explains.