Universal marine services include (a) basic meteorological forecast and warning services in support of safe and economic operations for maritime transport (as required under the SOLAS convention), fisheries, offshore and coastal industries and recreation; (b) more specialized meteorological and oceanographic services (eg ocean waves, temperature and sea-ice analyses and forecasts) in support of primarily economic aspects of fisheries, maritime transport and offshore activities; and (c) support of marine pollution monitoring and emergency and rescue operations. Additional marine services relate to insurance, sea lane safety and policing, port and pilot services, and others which are more related to individual factors.
The ability to provide basic marine services derives from a number of marine research and observation programmes. Current operational systems include approximately 7,400 voluntary observing ships recruited by 49 countries; approximately 180 drifting buoys and more than 200 moored buoys and fixed platforms; a small number of ocean weather ships and voluntary observing ships making upper air soundings daily over the oceans; and approximately 150 ships-of-opportunity transmitting sub-surface ocean soundings. There are also a number of international conventions and agencies which are responsible for the standard provision and monitoring or marine services.