Meeting of the Mediterranean Network of Law Enforcement Officials relating to MARPOL within the framework of the Barcelona Convention (MENELAS), Toulon, France, 29 September to 1 October 2015 – Sep 29, 2015

The Regional Marine Pollution Emergency Response Centre for the Mediterranean Sea (REMPEC) organised a Meeting of the Mediterranean Network of Law Enforcement Officials relating to MARPOL within the framework of the Barcelona Convention (MENELAS) in Toulon, France, from 29 September 2015 to 1 October 2015, which was co-financed by the International Maritime Organization’s Integrated Technical Co-operation Programme (IMO ITCP), the United Nations Environment Programme – Mediterranean Action Plan (UNEP-MAP) through its Mediterranean Trust Fund as well as voluntary contributions from the Government of France, the Government of Malta and the RAMOGE Agreement.

In parallel with the Meeting, the OSCAR-MED 2015 Operation (Opération de Surveillance Coordonnée Aérienne des Rejets en Méditerranée) was carried out within the framework of the RAMOGE Agreement.

The Meeting gathered eighteen (18) participants from twelve (12) Contracting Parties to the Barcelona Convention (Albania, Algeria, Croatia, European Union, France, Greece, Israel, Montenegro, Morocco, Slovenia, Spain and Tunisia), three (3) regional organisations (RAMOGE Agreement, Plan Bleu and REMPEC) as well as one (1) international organisation (INTERPOL).  It was also attended by eight (8) other representatives from France (Préfecture maritime de la Méditerranée and Tribunal de Grande Instance de Marseille), Italy (Guardia Costiera), Monaco (Division de Police Maritime et Aéroportuaire) and Spain (SASEMAR – Spanish Maritime Safety Agency), who participated in the OSCAR-MED 2015 Operation.

Various issues related to illicit ship pollution discharges, from collecting, recording and documenting evidence, to carrying out coordinated aerial surveillance operations as well as reporting, were discussed during the Meeting.  All participants actively contributed to the discussions, including those held during round tables which enabled them to present their national procedures and activities.

The Secretariat reminded participants about the Regulations for the Prevention of Pollution by Oil, as laid down in Annex I to the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL), with a focus on the discharge criteria arising from the said Annex.

Participants were also briefed on the OSCAR-MED 2015 Operation and visited the CROSS MED operational centre (Centre régional opérationnel de surveillance et de sauvetage de Méditerranée) while the operation was going on.  Following some discussion, the Meeting recommended the future organisation of coordinated aerial surveillance operations for illicit ship pollution in other parts of the Mediterranean Sea, and requested the Secretariat to liaise with Mediterranean coastal States interested in organising such operations, with a view to enhancing operational cooperation in the Mediterranean region to combat illicit ship pollution and facilitating the mobilisation of the necessary resources.

The Secretariat showcased the MENELAS information system which will be officially launched by the end of October 2015.

Whilst valuing INTERPOL’s participation at the Meeting, the Secretariat was called on to liaise with relevant regional and international organisations with a view to ensuring the necessary cooperation, which may include regular information exchange and reciprocal representation, amongst others.

The Meeting elected France to chair the Network for the period 2016-2017 and agreed to include the following items in the MENELAS Programme of Activities for the said period: 

  1. marine oil pollution detection/investigation report;
  2. establishment of a MENELAS database on illicit ship pollution discharges in the Mediterranean;
  3. review existing applicable sanctions at national level with regard to illicit ship pollution discharges; and
  4. measures to charge reasonable costs for the use of port reception facilities or, when applicable, apply a No-Special-Fee system.

The following documents, including the Report of the Meeting as well as the Conclusions and Recommendations endorsed by the Meeting, are on REMPEC’s event page.