Emergencies-Oil Spills and Accident Response:




The Contracting Parties shall:

cooperate in taking the necessary and effective measures to protect the coastline and related interests of one or more of the Parties from the threat and effects of pollution due to the presence of oil or other harmful substances in the marine environment resulting from marine emergencies...”(Oil Protocol, Article II)

“…individually or jointly, take all necessary measures, including those to ensure that adequate equipment and qualified personnel are readily available, to deal with pollution emergencies in the Sea Area, whatever the cause of such emergencies, and to reduce or eliminate damage resulting therefrom...” (Action Plan, Part II “Environmental management”, Point 18.6)

“…[formulate] national contingency plans for combating oil pollution….[and] shall co-ordinate their national plans for combating pollution in the marine environment by oil and other harmful substances in a manner that facilitates full co-operation in dealing with pollution emergencies…” (Jeddah Convention, Article IX “Co-operation in Dealing with Pollution Emergencies”, Point 1 and 3)


Contingency Plans:

As the development of National Contingency Plans and a Regional Contingency Plan are essential to dealing effectively with the impact of oil spills, PERSGA has been instrumental in helping Member States develop such strategies. These Plans are designed to cover preparedness in ports and oil terminals at the local level, and to cover all coastal facilities and areas along the coastline at the national level. At the regional level, a Regional Plan provides the framework through which states agree to cooperate with each other in the event of a major oil spill or other event that requires a regional rather than a national response.

Regarding National actions, National Contingency Plans are currently in use in Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Djibouti.  A National Plan for Sudan has been prepared, published by PERSGA, and approved by the government (Ministers Council Decision #152/2004 in the 4th of April 2004). Yemen and Somalia have some local port or terminal plans, but no national plans.  However, IMO has organised a workshop to develop the National Contingency Plan for Yemen and two regional workshops on Oil Spill Modelling and Sensitivity Mapping during 2004. 

On the Regional level, a workshop in Djibouti in July 2001 led to the preparation of the outline for an Action Plan on Contingency Planning for the Region by IMO and regional experts. IMO then conducted a follow-up consultancy to develop a full Action Plan and Project Document to cover National and Regional Contingency Planning for the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden.  

The Action Plan proposes a comprehensive programme for training at various levels; e.g. for ‘On-Scene Commanders’ at oil spills, and in specialized areas such as ‘oil spill mapping’ and ‘coastal sensitivity mapping’.  Further consideration of contingency planning requirements in the Region was given at the Regional Working Group on Navigation and Maritime workshop held in Hurghada in October 2003.  This workshop also led to the launching of PERSGA’s Marine Emergency Mutual Aid Centre (MEMAC).

Pollution Response Centres:

Pollution response equipment is located at a number of centres within the region, with generally satisfactory equipment now being available in the Gulfs of Suez and Aqaba and the northern part of the Red Sea. Such centres are the primary means by which oil spills in the region can be fought.

The creation of MEMAC is a significant turning point in PERSGA’s response efforts and proves to be an invaluable resource to the Region.  The role of the MEMAC is outlined in the Jeddah Convention (1982) and the Centre is located in Hurghada, Egypt. The building was completed in February 2004 and provides very generous office and training space. Three staff were initially appointed to initiate the operations.

Accident and Incident Investigations:

The investigation of marine accidents and incidents is important in terms of both determining responsibility and recognising lessons that can be learned and actions taken to prevent similar events from happening again. It was the subject of a very successful  Meeting of the Regional Working Group, in March 2003 in Port Sudan, again supported by IMO.