Oil and Chemical Spills

As one of the most densely populated parts of the world, currently in the midst of rapid economic growth, the NOWPAP region faces multiple anthropogenic stresses. Industry, urban areas, agriculture, aquaculture and shipping are major sources of marine pollution. A high shipping density, with more than half of the world’s 20 top container terminals located in the NOWPAP region makes it highly vulnerable to marine spill incidents.

The NOWPAP Marine Environmental Emergency Preparedness and Response Region Activity Centre (MERRAC) established jointly by UNEP and the International Maritime Organization (IMO) supports Member States in bulding capacity and coordinating preparedness and response to oil and hazardours and noxious substances (HNS) spills and implementing the NOWPAP Regional Oil and HNS Spill Contingency Plan (RCP). The latter enables a member state to request assistance from other countries in the event of a major spill incident.

The NOWPAP Regional Oil Spill Contingency Plan was adopted in 2003. The Plan was amended to cover the hazardous and noxious substances (HNS) in 2008.

Member countries annually review the implementation of the RCP, exchange information on and conduct regular spill response training and exercises.  These include the annual BRAVO communication exercises, DELTA operational exercises and table top spill response exercises.

NOWPAP Member States are parties to the International Convention on Oil Pollution Preparedness, Response and Co-operation (OPRC) and three Member States (People’s Republic of  China, Japan and the Republic of Korea) are parties to the OPRC-HNS Protocol. To facilitate compliance with the OPRC Convention and the OPRC-HNS Protocol and enhance regional capacity to respond to emergencies through NOWPAP RCP, MERRAC is playing a leading role in activities related to oil and HNS spill prevention and response, including risk assessment. Working through MERRAC, NOWPAP contributes to the implementation of the IMO Strategic Plan for the 2018-2023 period (Resolution A.1110(30)), in particular its Strategic Direction SD1, “Improve implementation”, which focuses, inter alia, on other aspects of implementation of the OPRC Convention, pollution reduction and elimination of the adverse environmental impact of shipping. MERRAC also support efforts to tackle marine pollution emergencies through cooperation between Competent National Authorities (CNAs).

NOWPAP MERRAC activities support regional progress towards Sustainable Development Goal 14 Target 14.1: By 2025, prevent and significantly reduce marine pollution of all kinds, in particular from land-based activities, including marine debris and nutrient pollution.

List of major NOWPAP MERRAC publications

Ongoing NOWPAP MERRAC projects:

- Development of the NOWPAP MERRAC information system based on the Web GIS

- Development of information sharing platform on oil and HNS spills in the NOWPAP region

- Development of guidelines on the assessment of oil spill response in the NOWPAP region

- Development of regional overview on the use of unmanned aircraft during marine pollution response in the NOWPAP region

- Assessment of oil spill emergency preparedness and response for the offshore platform in the NOWPAP region.