Under the Barcelona Convention, countries bordering the Mediterranean cooperate together on the environmental protection of the Mediterranean Sea. All twenty-one Mediterranean coastal States and the European Communities are Contracting Parties to the Barcelona Convention.
One of the protocols to the Barcelona Convention is the 2002 Protocol Concerning Cooperation in Preventing Pollution from Ships and, in Cases of Emergency, Combating Pollution of the Mediterranean Sea.
The implementation of this protocol is coordinated by the Regional Marine Pollution Emergency Response Centre for the Mediterranean Sea (REMPEC). As of April 2009, 11 of the Barcelona Convention’s Contracting Parties have ratified the Prevention and Emergency Protocol (Croatia, Cyprus, European Communities, France, Greece, Malta, Monaco, Montenegro, Slovenia, Spain and Turkey).
REMPEC has recognised that wildlife protection is an issue rarely considered in detail in Mediterranean coastal states’ oil spill contingency plans. The Centre is currently working with Sea Alarm to improve capacities of its contracting parties for responding to oiled wildlife incidents. This partnership will be formalised via a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Sea Alarm and REMPEC.
The MoU allows Sea Alarm’s expertise in oiled wildlife response to be made available via REMPEC to Barcelona Convention Contracting Parties on a 24/7 basis. The principles of the MoU, which is under development, are:
- Contracting Parties to the Barcelona Convention will be able to request Sea Alarm to dispatch experts on oiled wildlife response onsite through REMPEC as part of the Mediterranean Assistance Unit (MAU), an "expert advice" capability which could be rapidly mobilised at the request of Contracting Parties in the event of a pollution incident.
- To encourage development of national contingency plans for protection of sensitive species, including operational emergency procedures.
- Sea Alarm can provide training on oiled wildlife response for pollution response authorities in Mediterranean coastal states.
- REMPEC’s Country profiles will be linked with Sea Alarm’s Country Wildlife Response Profiles, providing integrated information on the preparedness and response framework in each country from both oil spill cleanup and oiled wildlife response points of view.