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The synthetic aperture radar (SAR) has now successfully demonstrated its capacity to uniquely provide valuable high-resolution information for coastal applications (oil-spill monitoring, ship detection, shallow-water bathymetry mapping, sea-ice monitoring, high-resolution wind fields, coastal wave fields). However, it appears that the operational use of SAR-derived products still remains limited, particularly in Europe. Although costs and sampling rate are often invoked to explain this limitation, it also appears that the SAR-instrument capabilities are generally poorly known within the operational community. Consequently, no real initiative currently involves the sustainable use of SAR in the main European projects for operational oceanography nor meteorology. Conversely, other countries such as Norway and United States are now moving into the use of SAR on an operational basis for coastal ocean monitoring. Significant efforts are being led by these countries to develop and harmonize such a monitoring system and extend the number of locations. In order to promote the potential of SAR to routinely scrutinize our coastal environment, the objective of this paper is to provide an overview of current SAR-related issues, including a brief technical system description (coverage, revisit time, etc.) and qualitative and quantitative descriptions of operational marine products. The prospects for achieving true operational usage and improving these products will then be considered in terms of requirements (satellite receiving station, revisit time, low data costs).