Farewell to Frédéric Hébert, Francesca Borg and Mario Bonello – Jun 30, 2014

Mr. Frédéric Hébert, Director of the Regional Marine Pollution Emergency Response Centre for the Mediterranean Sea (REMPEC), Ms. Francesca Borg, Clerk/Secretary and Mr. Mario Bonello, Technical Assistant – Logistics who respectively joined REMPEC in 2006, 2001 and 2005, left the Centre after years of exceptional service.

Following the Decision of the 18th Ordinary Meeting of the Contracting Parties to the Barcelona Convention (Istanbul, Turkey, 3-6 December 2013), REMPEC has been restructured as a consequence of the economic challenges of the Barcelona Convention and its Mediterranean Action Plan (MAP). Consequently, Mr. Hébert, Mrs. Borg, and Mr. Bonello terminated their contracts at the end of June 2014.

The three staff members highly contributed, through REMPEC, to the protection of the Mediterranean Sea and, in their respective roles, played an important part in ensuring that the Centre fulfills its mission to assist the Contracting Parties in meeting their obligations under the Barcelona Convention, the 1976 Emergency Protocol, the 2002 Prevention and Emergency Protocol and the Regional Strategy for Prevention of and Response to Marine Pollution from Ships.  The remaining Staff of REMPEC wish to acknowledge and thank Mr. Hébert, Ms. Borg and Mr. Bonello for their devotion to the Centre and their permanent commitment whilst in post in Malta. Special thanks go to Mr. Hébert for his exceptional service as Director of the Centre during the period 1 January 2006 – 30 June 2014.

Before departing Mr. Hébert addressed the following farewell letter to all REMPEC Focal Points and partners, highlighting some of the achievements of the Centre between 2006 and 2014, whilst he was Director of REMPEC:

"Dear All,

Today is my last day as Director of REMPEC and I would like to say goodbye and thank you to all of you.

I have been in this position for more than 8 years and during this time the Centre has delivered substantial tasks, all related to the implementation of the Regional Strategy for the Prevention of and Response to Marine Pollution from ships.

The implementation of the EU-funded SAFEMED I and SAFEMED II Projects from 2006 till 2012 in particular, have greatly assisted in improving the capacities of the maritime administrations of the beneficiaries, thus contributing to a safer and cleaner Mediterranean Sea. Without entering into details, I would like to highlight the activities related to the strengthening of the Mediterranean Memorandum on Port State Control, the training and qualification of vessel traffic systems operators and the sponsored scholarships at IMLI and WMU. These are concrete steps which deliver immediate and measurable results and also bear hope for the future.

Operational cooperation has also been strengthened with the organization of two regional coordinated surveillance operations (OSCAR-MED). Compared to other regional sea areas, this is still a timid start but it is now for the countries to take ownership and organize regularly these operations which, elsewhere, have proved effective in curbing the amount of illicit discharges at sea.

In the field of preparedness and response to marine pollution, measurable achievements have also marked these years. Decision support tools have been developed and trainings have taken place on shoreline clean-up assessment, oily waste management plans or addressing wildlife response and the training of volunteers. I would like to take this opportunity to thank our partners from the oil and chemical industry, ITOPF, CEDRE, ISPRA, Sea Alarm Foundation and MOON for their support all along these years and their involvement in our common projects.

This cooperation with the industry is paramount in order to achieve the goals of the Barcelona Convention. In the context of the boom of offshore activities, it will be even more needed and the support received in the preparation of the proposed Action Plan for the implementation of the Offshore Protocol augurs well for possible cooperation in the future to promote best recognized practices and standards in the region.

Beside the industry, we have always encountered willingness to assist from the other Regional Agreements and also EMSA.
It has also been a pleasure to work with my colleagues from the other Regional Activity Centres of the Barcelona Convention and I wish them all the best for the challenges ahead.

I will stop there as I realize it will be difficult to pay tribute to each and every one. Simply all that we have achieved has been accomplished through your support and involvement and I will end by some special thanks to all staff members past and present working at the Centre for their dedication and support, in particular during the difficult times we have gone through since 2010. REMPEC is a very small office and without their daily commitment we would not have been successful in delivering our tasks. I am therefore particularly saddened that, due to the prevailing difficult financial circumstances, it has been decided to separate four of them, a decision which does not reflect on their level of achievements. This was the price to pay for the Centre to survive and I am confident in my successors’ ability to go through this transition period.

It has been a privilege to work with you and I will keep extremely strong and good memories of our encounters. I hope that I will have the opportunity to meet you again in the future.

In the meantime, I remain,

Sincerely yours

Frédéric Hébert"