According to the Study of Maritime Traffic Flows in the Mediterranean Sea, published by REMPEC in 2008, the Mediterranean Sea is amongst the worlds busiest waterways accounting for 15 per cent of global shipping activity and it is estimated that some 18 per cent of global seaborne crude oil shipments take place within or through the Mediterranean.
Hydrocarbon pollution is probably one of the most serious threats to the marine environment. Serious incidents are extremely difficult to deal with using the resources of any single country, while the consequences can be devastating for whole regions.
The Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment and the Coastal Region of the Mediterranean (Barcelona Convention) and its related 1976 Protocol concerning Co-operation in Combating Pollution of the Mediterranean Sea by Oil and other Harmful Substances in Cases of Emergency (1976 Emergency Protocol), which was replaced by the 2002 Protocol concerning Co-operation in Preventing Pollution from Ships and, in Cases of Emergency, Combating Pollution of the Mediterranean Sea (2002 Prevention and Emergency Protocol) provide the legal framework for actions concerning regional co-operation in the field of preparedness for and response to accidental marine pollution. In addition, the Protocol for the Protection of the Mediterranean Sea against Pollution Resulting from Exploration and Exploitation of the Continental Shelf and the Seabed and its Subsoil includes several provisions reflecting those in the Emergency Protocol, particularly safety measures, contingency planning, notification and mutual assistance in case of emergency.
Considering the disastrous consequences of a hydrocarbon marine pollution incident, regional cooperation based on solid and well defined procedures is absolutely essential for effectively combating such occurrences.
Based on this necessity and the increase of hydrocarbon exploration activities in Eastern Mediterranean, Cyprus, Greece and Israel, through a trilateral agreement decided to formulate a Sub regional Contingency Plan for preparedness and response to major hydrocarbon marine pollution incidents covering the areas of responsibility. The preparation of the Sub-regional Contingency Plan (SCP) is funded by the UN Environment /Mediterranean Action Plan (MAP) system with the technical support of REMPEC and is expected to be completed by October 2017.
The Sub-regional Contingency Plan provides for periodical joint training and/or joint exercises so as to, amongst others, improve the level of cooperation and coordination among operational personnel, test the command structure of the Plan and achieve an effective level of communication among personnel responsible for managing the response process.