Participation of REMPEC to the WestMed Strategy project Stakeholder Meeting focused on Maritime highways for safer and cleaner seas, including integrated surveillance issues, Tunis, Tunisia, on 10 March 2016 – Mar 10, 2016

REMPEC and the Regional Activity Centre for Specially Protected Areas (SPA/RAC), two components of the United Nations Environment Programme Mediterranean Action Plan for the Barcelona Convention (UNEP/MAP) together with Tunisian authorities attended the Stakeholder Meeting focused on Maritime highways for safer and cleaner seas, including integrated surveillance issues held in Tunis, Tunisia, on 10 March 2016. The meeting was organised in the framework of the WestMed Strategy project ( commissioned by the Executive Agency for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (EASME) and the Directorate General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries (DG MARE) as a follow-up of the Declaration of the Union for the Mediterranean Ministerial Conference on Blue Economy, dated 17 November 2015, Brussels, Belgium.

With a view to preparing a Maritime Strategy for the Western Mediterranean and developing an action plan, Focus Group meetings with stakeholders, including the one above mentioned have been organised to obtain a good understanding of high potential areas for cross-national and cross-sectoral cooperation. This initial phase of the project was supported by a review of the existing literature regarding economic, social and environmental contexts and challenges, whilst existing governance and cooperation agreements which could support the development of a maritime Strategy in the Western Mediterranean were identified and reviewed. In this context, REMPEC was invited to introduce the Regional Strategy for Prevention of and Response to Marine Pollution from Ships (2016-2021) adopted by 19th Ordinary Meeting of the Contracting Parties to the Barcelona Convention (Athens, 9-12 February 2016).

The conclusions of the meeting included, inter alia: the identification of needs for cooperation at national, sub-regional and regional level; the importance of North South collaboration as well as South South; the identification of the potential main axes of a maritime Strategy for the Western Mediterranean covering the stimulation of the economic framework, the enhancement of the performance, security and safety of maritime services as well as the sustainability of activities, amongst others; the importance of integrating the said Strategy into existing frameworks to avoid duplications and increase coordination; and the formulation of propositions related to the Action Plan for the implementation of the said maritime Strategy for the Western Mediterranean.

The second phase of the project will focus on drafting the strategy and its action plan. The implementation of Phase 2 is subject to a decision to be made in March 2016, based on the findings and recommendations made under Phase 1.