Sea Alarm is invited to participate in these meetings on the basis of its existing MoU with REMPEC, which has been in place since 2011. The MoU describes Sea Alarm’s role in the Mediterranean Assistance Unit (MAU), providing expert advice on site (together with partners) to assist the Contracting Parties to the Barcelona Convention in responding to oiled wildlife incidents. The MoU also provides for Sea Alarm to assist countries in developing their own oiled wildlife preparedness through planning and training activities.
Saskia’s presentation informed the Mediterranean audience of Sea Alarm’s role, the nature of the MoU and about recent activities, especially the EUROWA project. The EUROWA initiative comprises a team of experts and equipment that can be mobilised to assist European governments in dealing with wildlife aspects of an oil spill, so the expertise within the EUROWA network could potentially be mobilised as part of the MAU. The suite of EUROWA training courses for hands-on oiled wildlife responders are also now available for Mediterranean countries interested in developing their own local preparedness.
As explained in the IPIECA-OGP Good Practice Guide on oiled wildlife preparedness, having such local preparedness in place is vital for an effective wildlife response, without relying solely on international assistance. Saskia also highlighted the Self-Assessment Tool developed by Sea Alarm as a way for countries to honestly evaluate their current level of preparedness for oiled wildlife response and encouraged the Contracting Parties to perform this evaluation. The Tool was approved in 2017 for use by HELCOM and the Bonn Agreement for countries to report on their progress at Regional Agreement Meetings.
The Focal Points Meeting was attended by 18 countries who are Contracting Parties to the Barcelona Convention, as well as representatives from IMO, UNEP/MAP and a number of international organisations. REMPEC organises these meetings every 2 years to discuss issues related to the implementation of the 2002 Prevention and Emergency Protocol to the Barcelona Convention.