It’s hard to monitor vessels that pollute out at sea, so five aircrafts from Algeria, France, Italy, Morocco and Spain got together to keep an eye on the Mediterranean Sea in a recent coordinated aerial surveillance program organized by the Regional Marine Pollution Emergency Response Center for the Mediterranean Sea (REMPEC).
During the second such operation organized by REMPEC, the aerial surveillance team monitored 700 vessels after three oil slicks were spotted in the western Mediterranean.
Financed by the Government of France and the RAMOGE Agreement (Saint-RAphael-MOnaco-GEnoa pollution agreement), the program was coordinated by the Spanish Maritime Safety Agency (SASEMAR) through its Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre in Palma de Mallorca.
The United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) and the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) were also involved.
EMSA provided satellite images from the CleanSeaNet service, while Blue Plan, the UNEP/MAP’s Regional Activity Center on environment and sustainable development, coordinated a meeting designed to establish a network of law enforcement officials that can hold polluters accountable.
14 countries sent representatives to the meeting to discuss Blue Plan’s Regional Governance and Knowledge Generation Project (ReGoKo Project), including Israel, Lebanon, Turkey, Palestine, Morocco and Tunisia, signaling a genuine interest in cleaning up the sea.
Egypt, however, where oil spills occur regularly and are often swept under the proverbial “rug,” was notably absent from the gathering.
Participants of the meeting discussed and then endorsed terms of reference of the proposed network.
They have also forwarded recommendations to establish the network to the Contracting Parties to the Barcelona Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment and the Coastal Region of the Mediterranean Sea, which is scheduled to meet in December 2013 in Istanbul, Turkey.