Astra Paging Ltd. developed the Vessel Traffic Oil Pollution Information System in 2006. This pilot project was implemented for the United Nations Office for Project Services (Contract No 00039160 RER/01/G33) and GEF (Global Ecological Fund) and World Bank. After its completion, the project was introduced to the Bulgarian Maritime Administration. The main activities in terms of project implementation included:

  • Assessment of the current situation and localization of the information system for better achievement of VTOPIS’s main objectives.
  • Development of software for visualization, tracking and backtracking of ship traffic that poses higher risk of oil pollution to the marine environment.
  • Development of an integrated database that provides information on the oil pollution caused by ships and can be accessed by all related external organizations and national authorities.
  • Setting of standard formats for data exchange between VTOPIS and the competent national authorities in case of oil spill incidents.
  • Provision of hardware and software for the set up of communications, database and oil spill modeling system.
  • Proposal for application of VTOPIS in the other Black Sea countries.

Main objectives of the system

  • To improve the protection of the marine environment and the vulnerable coastal resources. To enhance and strengthen the ability of all Black Sea state authorities for monitoring and control of the marine environment, including their reaction in emergency situations at sea.
  • To contribute to the effective implementation of the Black Sea Contingency Plan.

vtopis-operationOperational modes VTOPIS can operate in two modes, depending on the different groups of users:

Operational (daily) use:

» Maritime Administration Varna
» Maritime Adminstration Bourgas

Operation in case of incidents

» Civil Defense
» Ministry of Environment and Waters
» Ministry of Transport


VTOPIS includes six separate components:

  • The “Inspections and control of the generated waste” subsystem
  • The “Permissions” subsystem
  • The “Pollution reports” subsystem
  • Real time vessel traffic visualization
  • Vessel traffic backtracking
  • Oil spill modeling (GNOME model)

Conclusions after the implementation of VTOPIS

  • VTOPIS provides all tools that are necessary for the daily activities of the MEPC (Marine Environment Protection and Control) department, including management of the inspections, permissions and pollution reports.
  • The information management feature integrated in the VTOPIS database provides fast and accurate generation of all needed reports. For additional analysis by means of different software products the collected data can also be exported in MS Excel and other formats.
  • The tight integration between VTMIS and VTOPIS is essential for the efficiency of the system. Real time visualization and backtracking are compulsory for the effective monitoring of the vessel traffic and oil spill investigations.
  • The implementation of VTOPIS does not require any expensive or specialized hardware equipment.
  • The implementation of a professional and well supported oil spill modeling system requires more funds than those initially provided for the pilot project. However, the GNOME system shows good results and can be used until such financing is available.
  • The successful introduction of VTOPIS in the rest of the Black Sea countries calls for additional research on the legislation of these countries.
  • The AIS data sharing between the Black Sea countries will improve their readiness in case of oil spills and will provide valuable information for oil spill investigations.