Baltic Oil Response Capacity Expected to Improve
18 April 2012, Sopot, Poland – National authorities from all Baltic countries as well as representatives of the European Union gather today at the HELCOM RESPONSE 15 meeting. As an overall objective the meeting will evaluate the progress in the implementation of the HELCOM Baltic Sea Action Plan (2007-2021) for the recovery of the Baltic Sea specifically related to international response to maritime pollution incidents, and will identify issues for the next year’s HELCOM Ministerial meeting in Denmark.
A key topic of the 3-day meeting is the final outcomes of a HELCOM initiative to assess risks of shipping accidents and the need for improved response capacities and future investments. This work has just been completed within the BRISK and BRISK-RU projects co-financed by EU and the Nordic Council of Ministers. A follow-up project to carry on with the identified investment needs will be considered.
Further, the meeting is expected to agree on a new project to develop a manual for oil response at the shoreline, to complement the existing HELCOM operational manual on operations at sea. The meeting will also prepare for the annual major BALEX DELTA counter-pollution exercise, in which oil response ships from all Baltic Sea countries as well as vessels chartered by the European Maritime Safety Agency are invited to participate. The exercise of this year will be held within sea areas off Helsinki, Finland last week of August 2012, and will be extended with national modules on onshore protection, beach cleaning and wildlife protection modules.
The participants will consider the results of the 2011 HELCOM airborne surveillance activities, crucial for detecting illegal oil spills in the Baltic. The meeting will also consider areas of closer cooperation between HELCOM and the Baltic Network of the Prosecutors on Environmental Crime regarding detection and prosecution of offenders of anti-discharge regulations.
The RESPONSE meeting is held back to back with the Baltic Sea oiled wildlife responders meeting, organized on 16-17 April in cooperation with Sea Alarm and WWF. Backed up by recent HELCOM Recommendations, the wildlife responders and national authorities of the region are establishing more close cooperation.
The Meeting will be conducted by Mr Bernt Stedt from the Swedish Coast Guard HQ, Chair of HELCOM RESPONSE.
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Note to Editors:
HELCOM Response Group works to ensure swift national and international response to maritime pollution incidents and that in case of an accident the right equipment is available and routines are in place to respond immediately in cooperation with neighbouring states. The Group also coordinates the aerial surveillance of maritime shipping routes to provide a complete picture of sea-based pollution around the Baltic, and to help identify suspected polluters. The meetings of the HELCOM RESPONSE Group have been held regularly among all Baltic Sea countries and EU for over thirty years.
The Baltic Marine Environment Protection Commission, usually referred to as the Helsinki Commission (HELCOM), is an intergovernmental organisation of the nine Baltic Sea coastal countries and the European Union working to protect the marine environment of the Baltic Sea from all sources of pollution and to ensure safety of navigation in the region. Since 1974, HELCOM has been the governing body of the ‘Convention on the Protection of the Marine Environment of the Baltic Sea Area’, more commonly known as the Helsinki Convention.
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For further information, please contact:
Mr. Hermanni Backer
Professional Secretary (MARITIME and RESPONSE)
Tel: +358 46 850 9199
Fax: +358 (0)207 412 645
Ms. Johanna Laurila
Tel: +358 (0)40 523 8988
Fax: +358 (0)207 412 645