Monitoring the impact of the Offshore activities in the environment – Jun 07, 2021

Potential accidents caused by increasingly intense offshore activities could lead to long term adverse consequences on the fragile ecosystems and biodiversity of the Mediterranean Sea because of its enclosed nature and special hydrodynamics. In this context it could impact negatively the economies of Mediterranean coastal States, in particular the tourism and fisheries sectors. Therefore, the Contracting Parties to the Barcelona Convention adopted in 2016 the Mediterranean Offshore Action Plan in the framework of the Protocol for the Protection of the Mediterranean Sea against Pollution resulting from Exploration and Exploitation of the Continental Shelf and the Seabed and its Subsoil (Decision IG.22/3).

The Regional Marine Pollution Emergency Response Centre for the Mediterranean Sea (REMPEC) organised between 3 and 4 June 2021 the Online Third Meeting of the Barcelona Convention Offshore Oil and Gas Group (OFOG) Sub-Group on the Environmental Impact in coordination with the United Nations Environment Programme/Mediterranean Action Plan (UNEP/MAP). The meeting gathered representatives of Contracting Parties and Observers representing relevant international organisations and UNEP/MAP as well as relevant regional and international inter-governmental organisations, non-governmental organizations and the private sector.

The OFOG meeting examined and provided further guidance on the key outcomes of activities carried out in the current biennium, in relation to the implementation of the Mediterranean Offshore Action Plan. More specifically, this technical meeting reviewed the revised Draft Mediterranean Offshore Guidelines for the Conduct of Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), the amended Annexes to the Mediterranean Offshore Protocol, and the activities proposed in the Programme of Work for the biennium 2022-2023. The latter will now be submitted for approval by the next Meeting of the UNEP/MAP Focal Points (Athens, Greece, 14-17 September 2021) and for adoption by the Twenty-Second Ordinary Meeting of the Contracting Parties to the Barcelona Convention and its Protocols (COP 22, Antalya, Turkey, 7-10 December 2021).

The comprehensive plan of actions and related resource mobilisation strategy prepared by the Secretariat and welcomed by the Mediterranean countries and the partners will ensure the sustainability of the system to meet the objectives of the Action Plan. Best practices and lessons learnt were shared among the Contracting Parties to the Offshore Protocol, the relevant regional and international inter-governmental organisations, and MAP Partners.

The OFOG was established by COP to serve as an advisory body to the Contracting Parties to the Barcelona Convention as regards the Offshore Protocol. OFOG meets every two years to assist in the identification of best practices and to ensure a monitoring and assessment of the impacts of these activities consistent with the overall policy adopted within the Mediterranean Action Plan.