Available tools and practices for risk assessments to optimize response to spills in the Baltic Sea, but also other similar regions worldwide, were considered at a dedicated two-day HELCOM workshop organized last week in Helsinki (13-14 June). The workshop collected the views of national authorities and experts on risk assessments to form the basis for the work within the HELCOM-led OpenRisk project during 2017-2018.
The project, risk assessments and cooperation with other regions were also followed up during the 23rd meeting of the HELCOM Response Working Group, gathering the national spill response organizations in Baltic Sea the region and taking place back-to-back to the workshop (14-16 June).
Risk assessments - systematic identification and analysis of risks - are helpful in scoping the adequacy of existing response capacity as well as for proposing measures to reduce the likelihood of spills. They can also be used to monitor the development of risks over time.
In order to use the full potential of risk assessments in response related work, new methods are needed. The OpenRisk project, led by HELCOM, will take the first step in developing a toolbox of joint and open methods for response optimized risk assessments and to follow developments in related risk over time.
As similar needs have been identified in other regions of the world, the work will be carried out in cooperation with HELCOM's sister organizations. For this purpose the workshop gathered representatives of REMPEC (Mediterranean Sea), MERRAC (NW Pacific) and BONN Agreement (North Sea).
Recent regional risk assessments include for example HELCOM BRISK and BRISK-RU in the Baltic Sea (2009-2012), BONN BE-AWARE I and II in the greater North Sea (2012-2016) as well as REMPEC MEDESS-4MS in the Mediterranean (2012-2015).
Inter-regional cooperation on risk assessments has already some history as BONN Agreement utilized the same methodology that was developed for the last HELCOM risk assessment project "BRISK" in its recently finalised BE AWARE initiative. According to a presentation by representatives of MERRAC, BRISK was also an important inspiration to ongoing activities in the northwest pacific region. Risk assessments have also been discussed at the inter-secretariat meetings convened annually by EMSA.
OpenRisk is the latest development in this cooperation and will provide an opportunity for HELCOM and its sister organizations to consider best practices for response related risk assessments at a series of four project workshops: Helsinki (June 2017), Lisbon (October 2017, hosted by Lisbon Agreement), Malta (Spring-Summer 2018) as well as a final event during autumn 2018.
Information on the OpenRisk is available from the project website: https://openrisk-ppr.org/ .
The outcome of the RESPONSE 23-2017 is available here.
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Note for editors
HELCOM is an intergovernmental organization made up of the nine Baltic Sea coastal countries and the European Union. Founded in 1974, its primary aims as a governing body are to protect the marine environment of the Baltic Sea from all sources of pollution, as well as to ensure safe maritime navigation. The official name of HELCOM is the Baltic Marine Environment Protection Commission; it is the governing body of the Helsinki Convention.
The HELCOM Response Working Group works to ensure swift national and international responses to maritime pollution incidents, including in case of accident the availability of appropriate equipment and the joint practice of response procedures in cooperation with neighbouring states. The group also coordinates the aerial surveillance of maritime shipping routes to detect oil spills and other potentially harmful.
OpenRisk is a two-year project linked to the Response Working Group focussed on developing risk assessment methods for accidental maritime spills, co-financed by the European Commission DG ECHO (Civil Protection Financial Instrument, project ECHO/SUB/2016/740178/PREV26).
For more information, please contact:
Hermanni Backer Professional Secretary for Maritime, Response and Fish groups HELCOM Tel: +358 46 8509199 E-mail: hermanni.backer(at)helcom.fi
Valtteri LaineOpenRisk Project ManagerTel: +358 40 3527689E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org