Aerial surveillance operation for ship pollution (photo by Alberto Vera)
Some 700 vessels were monitored by five aircraft from Algeria, France, Italy, Morocco and Spain taking part in a Coordinated Aerial Surveillance Operation for illicit ship pollution discharges in the Western Mediterranean.
Called OSCAR-MED 2013, the operation was organised by the Regional Marine Pollution Emergency Response Centre for the Mediterranean Sea (REMPEC), with the financial support of the Government of France and the RAMOGE Agreement (Saint-RAphael-Monaco-GEnoa pollution agreement). It was coordinated by the Spanish Maritime Safety Agency (SASEMAR) through its Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre in Palma de Mallorca.
The air patrol aircraft from the five countries monitored marine pollution from ships in a designated area of the Western Mediterranean, where three oil slicks were detected. The European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) supported the operation by providing satellite images from the CleanSeaNet service.
This was the second OSCAR-MED operation organised by REMPEC. The first one, , in which three aircraft from France, Italy and Spain had participated, was held in Toulon, France in 2009. The main objective of these operations is to enhance operational cooperation in the Mediterranean to combat illicit ship pollution in the region.
During OSCAR-MED 2013, REMPEC and Blue Plan, the UNEP/MAP’s Regional Activity Centre on environment and sustainable development, also convened a meeting on the establishment of a network of law enforcement officials relating to MARPOL in the Mediterranean Sea (MENELAS). The meeting, which was also organised with the financial support of the Government of France, was also financed by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) “Regional Governance and Knowledge Generation Project” (ReGoKo Project) being implemented by Blue Plan.
Operational and judicial officials from 14 countries and territories in the Mediterranean responsible for investigating and sanctioning marine pollution offences participated in the meeting aimed at facilitating the exchange of information and experience amongst these officials. Participants hailed from Albania, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Cyprus, France, Israel, Italy, Lebanon, Montenegro, Morocco, Slovenia, Spain, Palestine, Tunisia and Turkey. The meeting discussed and endorsed the terms of reference of the proposed network and recommended the establishment of the network and the adoption of its terms of reference to the Contracting Parties to the Barcelona Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment and the Coastal Region of the Mediterranean Sea scheduled to meet in December 2013 in Istanbul, Turkey.