Sea Alarm attended the HELCOM Response meeting that took place from 23-25 September in Stockholm, Sweden. An important agenda item was the discussion of a paper prepared by Estonia, Sea Alarm and WWF that seeks to include oiled wildlife response in the HELCOM Response Manual.
Sea Alarm’s Hugo Nijkamp was present at the OTSOPA meeting, held in Rotterdam from 26-28 May. He reported on recent developments in the European scene of oiled wildlife response and preparedness, including the EMPOWER initiative, the decision by Helcom Response to include oiled wildlife response in the Response Manual, and the upcoming Effects of Oil on Wildlife (EOW) Conference. OTSOPA is the technical committee of the Bonn Agreement, the regional agreement for mutual oil pollution response cooperation between coastal states in the North East Atlantic.
Following this presentation, OTSOPA decided to include a chapter on oiled wildlife response in the Bonn Agreement Counter-Pollution Manual, which is a significant step towards the further recognition of integrated oiled wildlife response.
Sea Alarm attended an international meeting jointly organised by the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) and DG Environment on 30 June at EMSA’s new headquarters in Lisbon. The meeting’s overarching objective was to discuss integrated issues of oil spill response in Europe by exploring how aspects of civil protection (shoreline response) and marine rescue and oil spill combat at sea could be better integrated at both national and European levels. Representatives from civil protection agencies and oil spill response authorities of most European coastal states participated, as well as representatives from the secretariats of some of the regional conventions.
In order to develop a better understanding of current nature conservation and protection issues in the Mediterranean, Sea Alarm’s Roser Gasol attended the Ninth Meeting of Focal Points for Specially Protected Areas (SPAs) in Malta on the 3-6 June 2009. This biennial meeting is organised by the Tunisian-based Regional Activity Centre for Specially Protected Areas (RAC/SPA), whose primary role is to assist the Contracting Parties in the implementation of the Protocol on Specially Protected Areas and Biodiversity within the framework of the Barcelona Convention.
At the recent Regional Activity Centre for Specially Protected Areas (RAC/SPA) meeting in June, Sea Alarm discussed the possibilities for increased preparedness for oiled wildlife response in the Mediterranean with representatives of RAC/SPA and ACCOBAMS (Agreement on the Conservation of Cetaceans in the Black Sea, Mediterranean Sea and contiguous Atlantic area).
Several Portugese NGOs are working together to develop an oiled wildlife response plan for Portugal (see earlier newsletters). A working group has been tasked with the preparation of the first draft of the plan, which will be reviewed by the entire group once completed. The working group has determined the principles for the notification and communication procedures, established the main geographical challenges, and identified the texts and structures that could be adopted from the Belgian oiled wildlife response plan, which is being used as a model.
Sea Alarm attended the UK National Standing Environment Group Chairs Meeting, which took place in London on 29 April. Organised annually by the Maritime and Coastal Agency (MCA), the purpose of the meeting is to inform Environmental Group Chairs and key individuals about eventual changes in the UK National Oil Spill Plan or related documents and procedures, and discuss recent developments, case histories and relevant current topics. This is the second time Sea Alarm has been invited to the meetings as an observer, taking the opportunity to report on relevant international developments in the field of oiled wildlife preparedness and response.
The first Steering Group meeting of the newly established EMPOWER Network was held in Brussels in May. The Steering Group’s role is to advise and assist Sea Alarm in setting up the EMPOWER Network and coordinate the various activities of the work programme. This initiative has been made possible thanks to a grant awarded to Sea Alarm by the European Commission.
The first Steering Group meeting of the EMPOWER Network will be held in Brussels on 8th May. This is the first meeting of the representatives from the nine Founding Members of the Network, who are tasked with drafting the rules…
In March, Hugo Nijkamp attended a meeting at the Ministry of Environment in Tallinn, Estonia together with representatives from the Estonian Ministry of Environment, the HELCOM Secretariat and WWF Finland. Together, the participants discussed a proposal that will be submitted at upcoming HELCOM RESPONSE meeting in September, which seeks to integrate oiled wildlife response into the existing Helcom Response Manual.
Whilst in Tallinn, Hugo also met with Agni Kaldma and Juri-Ott Salm of the Estonian Fund for Nature (ELF), the local partner and co-host of the 10th Effects of Oil on Wildlife Conference.
Sea Alarm gave a presentation to OTSOPA Contracting Parties on its work in Europe and its cooperation with OSRL/EARL. OTSOPA is the technical working group under the Bonn Agreement, the regional cooperation on oil spill prevention, response and mutual assistance for the North Sea and the North East Atlantic.