Regional Activities

At a regional level, Sea Alarm aims to facilitate cooperation between countries to improve marine wildlife emergency preparedness and response. Its first objective is ensure that wildlife responders from different countries know each other and ideally train and conduct exercises together. To this end, Sea Alarm’s organises regional training events.

Integrating wildlife response into existing regional programmes

Ideally, wildlife response forms part of marine emergency planning of individual countries. In addition to its activities at national levels, Sea Alarm tries to encourage countries to consider planning for wildlife response at a regional level.

Countries bordering a so called “regional sea” have to deal with the same environmental characteristics of that sea and often share the populations of wildlife that are vulnerable to marine pollution. They are also near to each other and, in the case of Europe, have concluded Regional Agreements that facilitate mutual assistance to prevent, prepare for, and respond to marine pollution. These Regional Agreements are the practical elaboration of a global agreement, the International Convention on Oil Pollution Preparedness and Response and Cooperation (OPRC) to which most coastal countries are Contracting Parties.

European perspective

In Europe, different regional conventions arrange for the cooperation between countries that border Europe’s different regional seas:

Region Agreement Technical arrangement for marine pollution response Status of oiled wildlife response
Baltic Sea Helsinki Convention HELCOM RESPONSE Implemented
Nordic states Copenhagen Agreement
North Sea/ North East Atlantic OSPAR/Bonn Agreement OTSOPA Recognised; implementation is being explored
East Atlantic Lisbon Agreement (pending entry into force) No activity
Mediterranean Sea Barcelona Convention REMPEC Recognised; implementation is being explored
Black Sea Bucharest Convention No activity

Sea Alarm has an expanding programme of activity which aims to have wildlife response recognised as an integrated part of the overall pollution response planning and cooperation by Contracting States of these different Regional Agreements.

Sea Alarm contributes to the different meetings of the technical groups of some of these agreements:

Helsinki Convention

Under the Helsinki Convention, wildlife response has been recognised and Contracting Parties have agreed to integrate wildlife response into national oil spill response plans. Sea Alarm, together with WWF-Finland, has been instrumental in facilitating these discussions and in assisting Estonia (the lead country for these developments) in drafting a proposal for a HELCOM Response work programme in this field. Sea Alarm played an important role in drafting a formal HELCOM recommendation on oiled wildlife response, which is now in place and also chairs the HELCOM Expert Working Group on Oiled Wildlife Response.

Bonn Agreement

Sea Alarm has attended several annual OTSOPA meetings to report on its activities and international developments. The Contracting Parties have agreed that wildlife response is an important issue, and should be part of the reporting obligations.

Barcelona Convention

Under the Barcelona Convention, Sea Alarm holds a Memorandum of Understanding with REMPEC, which facilitates Sea Alarm’s advisory role to individual Contracting Parties and its involvement in future wildlife incidents.

Worldwide perspective

Regional sea cooperation exists worldwide. A good guide to forms of regional sea cooperation is provided by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), which promotes and facilitates Regional Sea Programmes. Regional cooperation has been set up in many areas of the world, formally agreed by an umbrella agreement, under which so called “Protocols” have been realised for particular issues. Cooperation for marine incident response is often arranged for in a separate protocol.

Although Sea Alarm is a small organisation based in Europe, it is able to provide assistance in other parts of the world to explore possibilities of increasing response capacities at regional levels. As part of Sea Alarm’s cooperation with the oil industry, it is exploring ways to build a global response capacity with leading wildlife response organisations. Regional capacity building is an important target in that approach.