REMPEC organises a Coordinated Aerial Surveillance Operation for illicit ship pollution in the Western Mediterranean – Jun 24, 2013

Five aircraft from Algeria, France, Italy, Morocco and Spain participated in a Coordinated Aerial Surveillance Operation for illicit ship pollution discharges (opération de surveillance coordonnée aérienne des rejets des navires en Méditerranée – OSCAR-MED 2013) in the Western Mediterranean which was organised by the Regional Marine Pollution Emergency Response Centre for the Mediterranean Sea (REMPEC) between the 24 and 26 June 2013, with the financial support of the Government of France and the RAMOGE Agreement (Agreement on the protection of the environement signed between France Italy and Monaco).

It was coordinated by the Spanish Maritime Safety Agency (SASEMAR) through its Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre in Palma de Mallorca and the planes were based on Palma de Mallorca main airport. 

The Operation commenced on 24 June at 18:00hrs and lasted until 12:00hrs of the 26th June. The air patrol aircraft from the five countries operated twelve flights (a total of 44 flying hours) to detect marine pollution from ships in a designated area of the Western Mediterranean. In total, some 700 vessels were monitored during the Operation and three oil slicks were detected. The Operation was supported by the CleanSeaNet service satellite images provided by the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA). 

This was the second OSCAR-MED Operation organised by REMPEC. The first one, in which three aircraft from France, Italy and Spain had participated, was based in Hyères, France in 2009. The main objective of these Operations is to enhance operational cooperation in the Mediterranean to combat illicit ship pollution in the region.

During OSCAR-MED 2013, REMPEC and Blue Plan, UNEP/MAP’s Regional Activity Centre on environment and sustainable development, also convened a Meeting on the Establishment of a Network of Law Enforcement Officials relating to MARPOL in the Mediterranean Sea (MENELAS). The Meeting, which was also held in Palma de Mallorca, between the 25 and 26 June 2013, was organised with the financial support of the Government of France and the Global Environment Facility (GEF) financed “Regional Governance and Knowledge Generation Project” (ReGoKo Project) being implemented by Blue Plan.

Operational and judicial officials from 14 countries and territories in the Mediterranean (Albania, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Cyprus , France, Israel, Italy, Lebanon, Montenegro, Morocco, Slovenia, Spain, Palestine, Tunisia and Turkey) responsible for investigating and sanctioning marine pollution offences participated in the Meeting aimed at establishing a regional network with a view to facilitating the exchange of information and experience in the prosecution of MARPOL violations. The Meeting discussed and endorsed the terms of reference of the proposed Network and recommended the establishment of the Network and the approval of its terms of reference to the Contracting Parties to the Barcelona Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment and the Coastal Region of the Mediterranean Sea scheduled to meet in December 2013 in Istanbul, Turkey.