HELCOM to finalize a new regulation on sheltering ships in need of assistance
Helsinki, 21 September (HELCOM Information Service) - The HELCOM Response Group will hold its regular meeting on 23 – 25 September in Stockholm to discuss further measures to enhance the capacity of the Baltic Sea coastal countries to respond to major marine pollution incidents in the region, including oil spillages, as well as to improve the detection of offenders of anti-pollution regulations.
The implementation of the response part of the Maritime Activities segment of the HELCOM Baltic Sea Action Plan to drastically reduce pollution to the Baltic Sea and restore its good ecological status by 2021 and preparations for the upcoming HELCOM Ministerial Meeting will top the Agenda of the Response Group Meeting. Representatives of the Member States are expected to approve the final draft of a new regulation on sheltering ships in need of assistance which has been developed according to the requirements of the action plan.
“This HELCOM Recommendation on implementing a mutual plan on places of refuge specifies circumstances under which a place of refuge could be granted to a ship in a country other than the one where the ship first needed assistance,” says Monika Stankiewicz, HELCOM’s Professional Secretary. “The benefits of a mutual plan include the reduced risk of pollution and faster response times. Additionally, the Recommendation aims at creating a harmonized liability and compensation regime in the whole Baltic Sea region, whereby possible damage costs related to a place of refuge situation could be to the fullest possible extend recovered from the international liability and compensation funds.”
The Meeting will consider a new chapter on co-operation in responding to oiled wildlife to be included to the HELCOM Response Manual. Additionally, representatives of the coastal countries will discuss a proposal to include a requirement on co-operation and assistance among countries in shoreline pollution incidents to the Helsinki Convention. These amendments are to ensure that both oiled wildlife response and shoreline response are integrated into oil pollution contingency plans for open sea as agreed in the Baltic Sea Action Plan.
The Meeting will review the progress in implementing the strategic project on risk assessment of spill of oil and hazardous substances in the Baltic Sea (BRISK), which aims at enhancing the capacities of the Baltic Sea countries to respond to major spills from ships. All HELCOM countries take part in this project which will run for three years. Participation of EU members is co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund within the EU’s Baltic Sea Region Programme 2007-2013, and of Russia by the Nordic Council of Ministers.
According to the Agenda, the Meeting will review the work of the Informal Working Group on Aerial Surveillance and its report on surveillance activities by the Contracting Parties and observed illegal spills in 2008, as well as co-operation with the European Maritime Safety Agency on satellite surveillance. Representatives of the coastal countries will also discuss the outcome of this year’s Super CEPCO surveillance operation in the Baltic Sea, as well as plans for future HELCOM aerial surveillance flights, e.g. CEPCO North and CEPCO South, during which special aircraft from several coastal countries jointly monitor areas with high likelihood of operational oil spills. Also, the Response Group will discuss preparations for the annual HELCOM BALEX DELTA international oil spill response exercise, which will take place next year off Klaipeda, Lithuania.
The Meeting will be conducted by Mr. Peter Soeberg Poulsen, Chairman of the HELCOM Response Group.
Note to Editors:
The Baltic Marine Environment Protection Commission, usually referred to as the Helsinki Commission, or HELCOM, is an intergovernmental organisation of all the nine Baltic Sea countries and the EU which works to protect the marine environment of the Baltic Sea from all sources of pollution.
HELCOM is the governing body of the "Convention on the Protection of the Marine Environment of the Baltic Sea Area," known as the Helsinki Convention.
For more information, please contact:
Ms. Monika Stankiewicz
Tel: +358 (0)207 412 643
Fax: +358 (0)207 412 639
Mr. Nikolay Vlasov
Tel: +358 (0)207 412 635
Fax: +358 (0)207 412 639