Ship weather-routing services are becoming more reliable as technology advances in telecommunications, ship tracking and positioning, and forecasting of the atmosphere and the sea. A recently awarded Interreg IIIB MEDOCC project entitled Weatherrouting dans la Méditerranée (WERMED), in which the IOI-Malta Operational Centre of the University of Malta is a partner targets to develop an experimental system for weather-routing for the Mediterranean Sea and analyse its potential in the region.

Weather-routing is a means of optimizing shipping routes on the basis of meteo-marine conditions. Unfavourable conditions at sea often cause considerable delays in marine transportation with increases in operational costs and fuel consumption. The forecasting of wind, sea state and currents permits an anticipated assessment for optimisation of routes to enable the most convenient navigation at lowest costs, minimal risks to the environment and highest safety to crew, passengers and cargo.

The project is led by the Italian agency CINFAI (Consorzio Interuniversitario per la Fisica delle Atmosfere ed Idrosfere) and brings together partners from some of the main MEDOCC countries namely Italy, Spain, France and Malta with clear maritime interests.

WERMED will estimate risk scenarios for maritime transportation, by Mediterranean climatologies of key meteorological and oceanographic quantities, based upon historical data from databases recently developed by a few international research projects. This will enable to determine potential risks of Mediterranean main routes will be possible, especially focusing on economical costs of running ships during different types of weather. Socio-economical impacts of ship-routing will be analysed and a system of weather-routing based on a chain of mesoscale meteorological and sea-state models will be planned.

A test-case on the shelf and coastal areas of the Maltese Islands is envisaged. This will lead towards establishing the basis a prototype weather-routing system for the Central Mediterranean, with focus on the Malta Channel and approaches to the Maltese Islands, and assess its feasibility and impact. In the Malta test case the overall system will target to provide a tool for managing the operational use of marine space in the vicinity of the islands such as with regard to oil bunkering areas, local shipping/ferry services; management of leisure craft movement, entry of ships into ports, services on marine safety, search and rescue, etc.

In January 2006 the IOI-MOC will be hosting the first plenary meeting of the project. The meeting will be opened by a half-day seminar on “Applying new technologies for safety, surveillance and enforcement at sea – A challenge for Malta and the Mediterranean”. The scope of the seminar is to give an overview on the benefits of technological developments in applications to support the management and monitoring of maritime activities, particularly to improve safety at sea, in surveillance operations, assessments and in the enforcement of maritime laws and regulations. The seminar will serve to highlight current initiatives as well as provide thoughts on how to follow on the European engagement to establish a sustainable relationship with the environment while improving competitiveness and strengthening the European industry, especially in the maritime sector. The seminar will also address Malta’s direct and future maritime concerns in its territorial waters such as in relation to timely and accurate tracking and monitoring of ship movements and cargoes, risks from marine oil pollution, and fulfillment of the EU marine policy that is currently taking shape.

For more information on the WERMED project, you can contact Dr. Aldo Drago, Director of the IOI-MOC, by email at or by phone on +356 21440972.