Archive for the ‘Regional Environmental Organizations’ Category

Marine Emergency Mutual Aid Centre (MEMAC) – Activities & Programme

September 15, 2011

MEMAC Programmes in general:
        Under the Protocol Concerning Co-operation in Combating Pollution by Oil and Other Harmful Substances in Cases of Emergency, MEMAC is working closely with its Member States. This work can be briefed as follows: 

–  Revising National Contingency Planning and providing experts and observers during the course of revision and exercise.
–  Revising laws, regulations and different Conventions related to marine pollution.   
–  Providing information with regard to technology, researches, methods and techniques in relation with combating or related matters. Besides, MEMAC has issued a list of Experts and Companies available regionally and worldwide and working in the field for emergency. MEMAC also reports all the incidents in the Region and follows up activities such as cleaning, etc.

MEMAC Programmes:
        MEMAC in co-operation with Member States monitoring and studying frequently each and every incident caused a pollution or likelihood to the marine environment.  The study will include all aspects wither technical or legal.  Accordingly, the Programme will be assigned by the ROPME Council.

Following is a brief reflecting the Programme activities which assigned by the ROPME Council and executed or in progress by MEMAC.


The Regional and National Contingency Plans:
        As the Regional and National Contingency Plans are the main elements of the objectives and functions of MEMAC, a main framework for the Regional Contingency Plan was established few years ago.  This plan was under frequent annual revision by the Region Response Officers to fulfill its main elements.

        Further, MEMAC continuously followed up the National Contingency Plan for each Member State through the Oil Spill Response Officers in the Region, providing them with technical assistance in order to achieve the compatibility with the Regional Contingency Plan and frequent Regional drill exercise conducted biennially.


Damage Assessment Guidelines:
        ROPME Sea Area is a virtual marine paradise where a great variety of marine creatures exist. The shore lines and the sea waters in the region form a unique ecosystem in which fish, birds, mammals, and many different types of plants interact for their existence. Besides, there are the oil and gas resources.  All of these form productive resources for the human and for the marine environment. Thus the region with its natural resources is considered one of the richest regions in the world. Such type of nature needs a great effort of assessment of damages followed by any oil spill incidents for reinstatement and rehabilitation. A Damage Assessment Guidelines was processed and published after a lengthy study by Regional and International experts who carried it out to cover this important issue. The Guidelines covers all the resources such as the Coral Reefs, Sands, Mangroves, Birds, Turtles, Breading and Nursery areas as well as Industrial areas and Tourism areas, which all are given in brief with method of reinstatement.


OPRC 1990:

The International Convention on Oil Pollution Preparedness, Response and Co-operation, 1990 (OPRC 90)

        Recognizing the importance of OPRC in facilitating international cooperation in preparing for and responding to major oil spill incidents and with a view of enhancing the regional capabilities in addressing marine emergencies effectively to minimize environmental damage and to save human life,  it is no doubt that an international instrument will be in need to work along with the Regional Kuwait Convention to preserve these resources. MEMAC invited all the Member States experts, on the 29th and 30th March 2005, to discuss the OPRC Convention and the Protocol on Preparedness, Response and Co-operation to Pollution Incidents by Hazardous and Noxious Substances, 2000 (OPRC-HNS Protocol). The meeting was also attended by the  representatives of the International Maritime Organization (IMO), where a verification for the existing oil spill combating system and the readiness in the region were verified.  

The meeting concluded that all Member States had already met all the obligations of the Convention and it would be of great benefit to have accessions to the OPRC Convention. The recommendations were forwarded to the Member States for further process, where I. R. Iran is already a party to the Convention and the Sultanate of Oman is on final stage of ratifying while the  other States are in different levels of process as it has been  reported.


Search and Rescue:
        For several years MEMAC has dealt with this subject based in humanitarian aspects, where in some occasions the rescue was associated with the oil spill incidents and many lives were salvaged. But the mandate of MEMAC is different and it is purely to deal with oil spills. For this reason a meeting for the Member States’ experts and the International Maritime Organization (IMO) representatives was convened in the Kingdom of Bahrain on the 19th and 20th November 2005 to study this matter. The meeting recognized that all ROPME Member States have their fairly adequate existing plans for maritime search and rescue services and they need to consider the International Search and Rescue Convention. The Member States I.R. Iran, Sultanate of Oman and United Arab Emirates are already parties to the Convention. It is strongly recommend that a regional framework to be established along with a regional organization for this subject. The meeting recommended MEMAC to take over this initiative due to its vast regional experience. The subject is left with the Member States for deep study and decision.

Trajectory Modeling:
        The modeling is one of the important tools to predict oil slicks whenever an oil spill incident occurs. The model is of great assistance for the protection strategy plans.  This has been exercised by MEMAC and the Member States. For several years MEMAC and the Member States have been using the NOAA model which was prepared by NOAA, ROPME and MEMAC for the Region. As the existing model is of a large scale and more general in covering the Region data, the Member States decided to have a more up-dated model with details as the activities and the offshore installations in the Region have increased. A project contract with BMT, as a well known experienced company in the field, was established in order to provide the Region with a model which is known as OASIS Model. This model had been handed over to all of our Member States during 2007 with on site training carried out by the BMT specialist.

The Reception Facilities and MARPOL 73/78:
         The special hydrographic and ecological characteristics of the fragile marine environment of the Region and its particular vulnerability to pollution due to high shipping traffic density, along with the coastal and offshore human activities, require a highly effective and strong approach. The Region produces over 56% of the world energy and receives over 30,000 vessels of different types transiting in a semi-close sea per annum. It is a challenge and an effective major should take place. The International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL 73/78) has been taken seriously by ROPME Council.

A feasibility study has been carried out for about five years for establishing the Reception Facilities in the Region as a main obligation towards ratifying the MARPOL 73/78 Convention. The study has been carried out and it is still under follow-up by the Regional steering Committee as well as by each of the Member States’ National Steering Committee.

The joint Regional efforts have led the Member States to ratify the MARPOL 73/78 Convention. The early ratification of the Convention by the Sultanate of Oman and the joint efforts of the Member States during the IMO Meeting of the Marine Environment Protection Committee have assisted the Region in expanding the Special Area of the Region by about 200 nautical miles from the Omani coast towards the Arabian Sea to cover all the ROPME Sea Area.

The main target of ratifying the Convention is to declare the area as a “Special Sea Area” which means no oil or any other substances would be discharged from ships, and shipping must follow the IMO standards.

During the MEPC 56, meeting on the 9th – 13th July 2007 a Resolution adopted and a dated decided on having the Special Area status in effect as of the 1st August 2007, in according to Regulation 1.11.5 of Annex I and Regulation 5(1)(e) of Annex V of MARPOL 73/78 Convention. 


The Loan and Transboundary Movement ofPersonnel, Equipment, and Materials in Cases of Emergency and Technical Assistance:
        MEMAC has laid this important subject’s guidelines which have been a good reference in use by the Member States.

        Through MEMAC, a number of Regional and International experts have been designated to assess damages occurred in the marine environment and the coastal areas of the Region, as well as different types of equipment have been transported and moblized from state to state in the Region under MEMAC guidance. 


Oil Pollution Manual:
        As one of the main functions of MEMAC is to prepare an Oil Pollution Manual for the Region, MEMAC has offered the IMO Oil Pollution Manual Section IV for the Region’s utilization.  This is because of the active role of MEMAC and ROPME Member States in preparing the IMO manual where the regional requirements are reflected.  The specific regional information is to be published separately beside the IMO Manual.

 Besides, several manuals have been issued such as the Legal Guidelines and the Safety Guidelines.  


Development of Safety Programme for Harmful/Hazardous Substances:

         This Programme is dedicated mainly for chemical spills where it is divided into two parts:  the training and the tools.  The tools aims to assist and support in taking a decision during the chemical spills.  The tools include the following:

  • Comprehensive list of equipment recommended for the combating of chemical spills.
  •   A Publication listing all the possible available chemicals world wide ranking all the chemical toxicity, properties, atmospheric plum dispersion and safety emergency procedures.

This is made available also electronically by means of CD Format for prompt enquiries.

  • A well known model, such as TNO, is made available for the Member States’ use.
  • Further, a link is made to Chemical Response and it has been made available within MEMAC web site.


 Marine Environmental High Risk Areas (MEHRA’s):
        MEHRA’s is one of the main and highly important projects under the process by MEMAC.  A number of ROPME Member States’ Experts and Experts from ANATEC Company, which has  excellent experience in such types of projects,  met on the 12th and 13th June 2005 in Bahrain.  They launched the project after discussion and agreement of each Committee Member’s role.


Project Objectives:
To identify areas within the ROPME Sea which should be designated as  Marine Environmental High Risk Areas.

To establish a tool kit i.e. GIS Model, which can be updated as new information on environmental sensitivity.

 Scope of Work:
Collection of data such as shipping traffic and environmental data.
Analysis of accident data.
Risk Assessment.
Identification of Marine Environmental High Risk Areas.
Software Implementation and training the trainers.

 The main issues tackled by MEHRA’s will be as follows:

  • §  Understanding of the risk of marine pollution to sea areas and coastlines in the Region and identifying areas of highest risk.
  • §  Development of a database of shipping movements, which can be utilized to assess the risks. or impacts associated with future offshore developments taking place in the region.
  • §  Development of a GIS system on all coastal environmental sensitivity areas, which can be used to keep information up-to-date for future environmental impact assessment being carried out in the region.
  • §  Identification of areas of highest environmental sensitivity.
  • §  Identification of Marine Environmental High Risk Areas for the region based on pollution risk and environmental sensitivity.
  • §  Use of the system to identify areas where pollution response and traffic management measures require to be focused.
  • §  The system can be used for any of the Member States in the region, applying to IMO for a Particularly Sensitive Area (PSSA).

Port State Control (PSC):
        During the period of the years 1996 – 2002, the Region witnessed a number of oil pollution incidents resulted from serious forms of coastal vessels casualties.  As a normal procedure, accident investigation and analysis, the importance of the PSC was concluded.  MEMAC took the initiative and convened a regional meeting in co-operation with IMO and with the attendance of GCC Secretariat along with the Member States’ concerned Ministries and Experts, where the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) of the Port State Control for ROPME Region was laid – The MOU was ratified by all Member States in May 2003.  As the MOU falls within the specialty of Ministries and Port Authorities, the matter is left with the GCC Secretariat in order to form the Information Centre which has been decided to be in Muscat-Sultanate of Oman.  MEMAC will keep its commitments towards the execution of and co-operation in this matter.

MEMAC Database:
        A tremendous amount of information is collected for the database, which is divided into Regional Oil Spill Equipment manufactures and companies working in the field and environmental experts and institutions, and there is  still much more to come.

A special form is made available for companies, experts and institutions for registration within ROPME Region’s Data-base aiming to make all these services available for the Member States’ utilization to protect the marine environment.

 Note: To join the Data Base, the Registration Form is available within        the site 

 Survey of Wrecks:
        A Task Force was established with the participation of I.R. Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, UNEP, UN Representatives, IAEA, CEDRE, ROPME/MEMAC and UNDP which took the lead afterwards.  Several meetings took place in ROPME Headquarters for this Task. 

The Task Force supervised, co-operated and executed a survey for covering  42 wrecks starting from North Bubian Is. up to UM-Al-Qasser and Khor Al-Zubair.  The main concern was the polluting content of the wrecks, where over 150 samples were taken for analysis and wrecks location were surveyed for safe vessels’ traffic passage.


Master Plan:
This project started at 2007, where the “Master Plan” shall address the future planning of how the region shall be fitted out with pollution and navigational hazards prevention and control capabilities, based on the future trade volumes and the possible hazards to the environment.

Once this “Master Plan” is drawn and approved it will constitute a very essential tool on how to coordinate present and future activities, the “Master Plan” shall enable ROPME to avoid duplications in spending on facilities such as pollution control and navigations safety centers, the implementation of this “Master Plan” can be self financing through proper management of compensations and retrieval of pollution control cost.        

The preparation of the Master Plan may be accomplished in three main phases:

Phase 1:   Implementation of MARPOL 73/78.
Phase 2:   Pollution Control (Legal and Technical).
Phase 3:   Safety of Navigation.


The Task:

  1. The Task set out in the MEMAC scope of work and terms of reference is to develop a Master Plan which will enable the MEMAC to fulfill its responsibilities of over sighting and coordinating the safe operation of shipping and the protection of the marine environment including the combat of marine pollution in the ROPME Sea Area over the next 10-15 year period.
  1. In order to develop the Master Plan, the consultants will review and make recommendations on the following matters in ROPME Sea Area countries and major ports
  • review the current situation with regard to the flag State’s accession, implementation and enforcement of  the IMO mandatory conventions and the additional  coastal State conventions,
  • review the port Sate control regime in each country and its coordination across the region
  • review vessel traffic services, ship routing, vessel reporting systems and the extent of integration to provide safe navigation of shipping through the region
  • review current shipping traffic in the ROPME Sea Area and provide an estimation of future levels of shipping in the region
  • review the extent of regional implementation of electronic charting
  • review  the current shipping incident investigation system
  • review the adequacy of the existing visual and electronic navigational aids
  • identify potential navigation hazards
  • identify appropriate regional cooperation in managing maritime operational issue
  • review existing and potential funding mechanisms for the provision of maritime safety, navigational safety services and pollution response in each country and from a regional perspective
  • review progress in establishing ship port waste reception facilities
  • review oil and chemical pollution response arrangements in each country as well as the regional approach to pollution response, including levels of response equipment, contingency plans, training and the availability of trained personnel in pollution response with the view to establishing a ‘state of the art’ pollution response system
  • review regional ship emergency response and communications arrangements including  designation of a place of refuge in an marine emergency and the need for maritime assistance services
  • review funding mechanisms for pollution response including provision and operation of pollution response centers by the private sector,
  • review the availability of compensation for pollution response and damage by the various international pollution compensation regimes.
  • review existing  and required legislation for all the above activities
  • identify the most appropriate regional approach to all above matters, with a view to ensuring the most effective coordination of maritime safety and marine environment protection services, avoiding the risk of costly duplication
  • the Master Plan shall include a continual review mechanism
  1.  In the review of the above listed matters the Consultants will use and take note of relevant IMO Conventions, IMO Assembly Resolutions and MSC/MEPC resolutions including but not limited to the following:
  • A 973 (24) Code for the Implementation of Mandatory IMO Instruments
  • A974 (24)  Framework & Procedures for Voluntary IMO Audit Scheme
  • A 881 (21) Self -assessment of flag State performance
  • A 847 (20) Guidelines to assist flag States in implementation of IMO instruments
  • Resolution MEPC. 83 (44) on Guidelines for ensuring the adequacy of port waste reception facilities.

The Oil Spill Response Officers (OSRO):
      The Oil Spill Response Officers in the Region have frequent annual meetings, or whenever it is deemed necessary, and as it is assigned to them by Their Excellencies the Ministers of the Environment.  In these meetings they discuss each National Contingency Plan, presenting all the obstacles and updating all the main elements of the National Contingency Plans.

During their meetings they discuss and review several important regional issues executed by MEMAC such as:

  • Revising all the main elements of the Regional and National Contingency Plans, precautions and the Regional preparedness
  • Providing technical assistance to some Member States in order to update their National Contingency Plans
  • Ratifying the Oil Preparedness Convention, OPRC 1990
  • Regional Arrangements for Search and Rescue
  • Preparing and collecting oil finger printings.

Regional and International Events:
MEMAC has always sought the Regional and International cooperation which has been reflected in different activities aiming to protect the Region’s marine environment. These activities have reflected in MEMAC’s participation in IMO Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) regular meeting. It also participated in the IMO working group in order to reflect the Region’s concern to the new International instruments. This includes the updating of the training courses and manuals, beside the support of the Member States’ representatives during the MEPC meetings where continuous meetings and exchanging of views among the representatives take place.

Further, MEMAC participated in those important events held Internationally and Regionally, highlighting MEMAC’s activities, expressing its concern towards the protection of the marine environment and exchanging views with other experts.

A close co-operation with the International Maritime Organization (IMO) always stands there as a close partner for the protection of the ROPME Sea Area. This is reflected in different projects and training courses


This piece is taken from the website of the Marine Emergency Mutual Aid Centre.

See on-line at: 




Marine Emergency Mutual Aid Centre (MEMAC) – How MEMAC Deals with Incidents?

September 15, 2011

Upon receiving notification of an oil spill incident from any source, the following steps are taken immediately:

  • Verification of the incident.
  • Collect complete data about the incident.
  • Notifying and transmission of all data to all Member States.
  • Notifying local, regional and international private sectors working in the field of combating marine pollution to be on standby in case of necessity
  • Continuous exchange of incident data and follow-up.
  • Updated information about the incident status is continuously provided to all Member States
  • Legal and technical advice is continuously provided to the Member States
  • Oil Spill Trajectory Model is used for early prediction
  • In case of any assistance in needed, MEMAC liaises with the Member States as well as with other regional and international firms.
  • A record about the incident is kept for studying and as a lesson to be learnt for future avoidance of any similar incident.


This piece is taken from the website of the Marine Emergency Mutual Aid Centre .

See on-line at:

Marine Emergency Mutual Aid Centre (MEMAC) – About MEMAC

September 15, 2011

Established on 4th August 1982 at Manama, Bahrain, within the framework of Kuwait Regional Convention for Co-operation on the Protection of the Marine Environment from Pollution together with the Protocol concerning Co-operation in Combating Pollution by Oil & other Harmful Substances in Cases of Emergency which were signed on 24th April 1978 at Kuwait.

Member States:
1- Kingdom of Bahrain
2- Islamic Republic of Iran
3- Republic of Iraq
4- State of Kuwait
5- Sultanate of Oman
6- State of Qatar
7- Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
8- United Arab Emirates

Objectives (Article III)
a)   to strengthen the capacities of the Contracting States and to facilitate co-operation among them in order to combat pollution by oil and other harmful substances in cases of marine emergencies;

b)   to assist Contracting States, which so request in the development of their own national capabilities to combat pollution by oil and other harmful substances and co-ordinate and facilitate information exchange, technological co-operation and training;

c)  a later objective,  namely the possibility of initiating operations to combat pollution by oil and other harmful substances at the regional level, may be considered. This possibility should be submitted for approval by the Council after evaluating the results achieved in the fulfillment of the previous objectives and in the light of financial resources which could be made available for this purpose.

Functions (Article III)
a)  To collect and disseminate to the Contracting States information concerning matters covered by this Protocol, including:

  ( i) laws, regulations and information concerning appropriate authorities of the Contracting States and marine emergency contingency plans referred to in Article V of this Protocol ;

(ii) information concerning methods, techniques and research relating to marine emergency response referred to in Article VI of this Protocol; and

  (iii) list of experts, equipment and materials available for marine emergency responses by the Contracting States ;

b) to assist the Contracting States, as requested :

(i) in the preparation of laws and regulations concerning matters covered by the Protocol and in the establishment of appropriate authorities ;

(ii) in the preparation of marine emergency contingency plans ;

(iii) in the establishment of procedures under which personnel, equipment and materials involved in marine emergency responses may be expeditiously transported into, out of and through their respective countries;

(iv) in the transmission of reports concerning marine emergencies; and

(v) in promoting and developing training programs for combating pollution .

c) to co-ordinate training programs for combating pollution and prepare comprehensive anti – pollution manuals;

d) to develop and maintain a communication/information system appropriate to the needs of the Contracting States and the Centre for the prompt exchange of information concerning marine emergencies required by this Protocol;

e) to prepare inventories of the available personnel, material, vessels, aircraft and other specialised equipment for marine emergency response;

f) to establish and maintain liaison with competent regional and international organisations, particularly the International  Maritime Organisation of the United Nations, for the purposes of obtaining and exchanging scientific and technological information and data, particularly in regard of any new innovation which may assist the Centre in the performance of its functions ;

g) to prepare periodic reports on marine emergencies for submission to the Council; and

h) to perform any other functions assigned to it either by this Protocol or by the Council


This piece is taken from the website of the Marine Emergency Mutual Aid Centre.

See on-line at: