Dr Tosh Moller, Fionn Molloy & Helen Thomas
Paper presented at the International Oil Spill Conference 2003, Vancouver, Canada, 6-11 April 2003
The International Convention on Oil Pollution Preparedness, Response and Co-operation, 1990 (OPRC Convention) defines the basic elements for co-operation between government and industry in marine pollution response. Emphasis is given in the Convention to developing contingency plans, equipment stocks, research and development initiatives, training and exercise programmes, and appropriate spill notification procedures for shipping. This paper reviews the current status of the partnership between government and industry for dealing with spills arising from the transportation of oil by sea. Three areas are explored: the risk of spills, environmental sensitivity issues, and the capabilities for dealing with oil spills in different regions of the world. The format for the study is based on the Regional Seas and Partner Seas Programme initiated by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), and supported by the International Maritime Organization (IMO).
For each region, the main factors contributing to the risk of oil spills are identified, analysed and discussed in relation to the current pattern of oil transportation by sea. Comparisons are made with data on major oil pollution incidents drawn from ITOPF's oil spill database. Priorities and activities in the different regions are considered and the implications for oil spill response are discussed. Finally, the commitment and capabilities for mounting effective spill response measures in the different regions are gauged, with particular reference to the tenets of the OPRC Convention.