Press Release
Ninth OSRO and Master Plan
Regional Meeting of Marine Emergency Mutual Aid Centre (MEMAC) with Representatives of Regional Organization ROPME

Doha, the Capital of the State of Qatar, is going to host a twofold Meeting on the Protection of the Marine Environment which will be convened by the Marine Emergency Mutual Aid Centre (MEMAC) in cooperation with the Ministry of Environment of Qatar during the 22nd – 24th of February 2016. This Meeting will include the Ninth Oil Spill Response Officers (OSRO)’s Meeting and the First Master Plan Committee-3 Meeting as both of these meetings are related to the same subjects.

The Meeting will be attended by the representatives of the Member States of the Regional Organization for the Protection of the Marine Environment (ROPME). Representatives of the Regional Clean Sea Organization (RECSO) have also been invited to attend the Meeting.

The Meeting will acquaint the representatives of the Member States in different committees with what has been achieved previously and will discuss the forthcoming steps which should be taken to achieve the mutual programs and activities.

Captain Abdul Munem M. Al-Janahi, Director of MEMAC, has commended the support of Their Excellency the Members of ROPME Ministerial Council which has approved the suggestions and recommendations of different committees working under the umbrella of MEMAC. These suggestions and recommendations have been translated into different programs and projects which have been mandated to OSRO Committee to achieve them. Captain Al-Janahi added saying that the achievement of these programs and projects has become an urgent need for the protection of our coastal areas and marine environment, whereas the number of ships visiting our Region and carrying different kinds of goods, including hazardous chemical substances and large quantities of oil and gas, has been doubled. The number of ships of different types, he said, had exceeded 48,000 ships last year, while the number of oil and gas tankers reached 32, 000 tankers, most of which were with high tonnages.

The Meeting will review and discuss several subjects related to the expertise of the Regional Oil Spill Response Officers, including the following:

    • Periodical review of the Regional Contingency Planning;
    • Technical Assistance to the Member States;
    • The Oil Pollution Combating Auditing Programme Survey;
    • Acceleration of the process of Ratifying some important International Maritime Protocols and Conventions such as the HNS Protocol (2000) of OPRC Convention, whereas the number of ships carrying hazardous substances is continuously increasing; also acceleration of the process of ratifying the International Convention on Civil Liability for Bunker Oil Pollution Damage, 2001 as well as ratifying the International Convention on the Removal of Wrecks, 2007;
    • Review the process of preparing the Draft Regional Hazardous and Noxious Substances Plan;
    • Study the possibilities of identifying the Place/s of Refuge in cases of emergency, also identifying the challenges Member States are facing for the implementation of resolutions of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and to recommend modification of the IMO Resolution A. 949 (23) regarding the Place/s of Refuge for ships, if it deems necessary.
    • Organize Training Workshops as per the requirements and needs of the Member States in order to enhance the National and Regional capabilities;
    • Review the National Contingency Plans of all the Member States with their amendments and updates;
    • Review the Periodical Reports on Marine Emergencies and Marine Incidents in order to take the necessary procedures and precautions for the future.

One of the most important issues emphasized by the ROPME Ministerial Council is to take the necessary steps towards the establishment of the Marine Emergency Response Coordination Unit (MERCU) which aims to enhance the level of preparedness and response to marine emergencies as the establishment of such a system is necessary for realization of the principle “Polluter pays” which will definitely mitigate the financial burdens on the ROPME Member States as this system is carried out in other areas of the world. It is worth mentioning that all the Member States of IMO have agreed on carrying out this system as the IMO General Secretary had already announced about it to the relevant countries, authorities, organizations and tanker-owners at the international level in 2014. This took place after three sessions of discussions between the Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) of IMO and the Marine Emergency Mutual Aid Centre (MEMAC).

Emphasizing the importance of the future strategic planning, and observing the different environmental challenges faced by the ROPME Member States, and taking into consideration the rapidly increasing navigation in the Region, and the urgent need for raising up and strengthening the level of preparedness and response to marine emergencies, the ROPME Ministerial Council enjoined MEMAC to put forth the issue of the Regional Strategic Marine-Environmental Master Plan (shortened as “Master Plan”) to relevant committees to start the process of Implementation of the Master Plan.

The Master Plan, says Captain Al-Janahi, will ensure the participation of all the relevant ministries, authorities, institutions and bodies in all the ROPME Member States which take part in environmental programs and projects with all related technical and legal aspects, emphasizing the principle that the protection of the environment is the responsibility of every one. Thus, MEMAC asks the Member States, which have not sent their nominations for the Committees of the Master Plan yet, to do so as soon as possible, taking into account that their nominees should be decision-makers and official with expertise and specialization in different related fields, so that they would facilitate the process of implementation of obligations and activities mentioned in the Action Plan of each of the four Committees of the Master Plan, which have been recommended by the Study carried out by a group of Regional and International experts and consultants whose assistance has been sought and approved by the ROPME Ministerial Council. The obligations and activities of the Action Plans of the Committees include, for example, the establishment of Waste Reception and Treatment Facilities, ratification of MARPOL 73/78 Convention, establishment of MERCUs … etc. as well as execution of all the relevant Council decisions actively and efficiently. Undoubtedly, such a tendency as this will lead to enhancing cooperation and coordination among different relevant bodies within one Member State on the one hand, and among different Member States in the Region on the other hand, as well as it leads to realization of the commitments of the Member States towards relevant Regional and International Conventions and requirements of these Conventions, thus yielding benefit to the Member States regionally and internationally.

The four Committees of the Master Plan are as follows:

    1. 1. Funding Committee: The Strategic Objective of this Committee is to put in place a Service charge Mechanism which will provide sufficient funding to enable the creation of the infrastructure for the MERCUs.
    2. 2. Infrastructure Committee: The Strategic Objective of this Committee is to develop the physical elements of the Master Plan, including the coverage of the process of emergency response, establishment of data systems and an investigation unit.
    3. 3.Contingency Planning Committee: The Strategic Objective of this Committee is to address the Marine Contingency Planning and realization of all relevant elements of the National Contingency Plans and the Regional Contingency Plan in ROPME Sea Area.
    4. 4. Compliance Management and Monitoring Committee: The Strategic Objective of this Committee is to follow up the International Conventions and Protocols, and the process of compliance of the Member State with them, as well as to follow up the relevant programmes and give appropriate instructions to other Committees.

Captain Abdul Munem M. Al-Janahi / Director of MEMAC


Monday, February 22 2016

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