Submitted by admin on Mon, 10/01/2012 - 00:46
October 1, 2012 by admin
Mr. Paul Irving, Senior Scientific Coordinator, Australian Maritime Safety Authority, AMSA
Ms. Giovanna Lorenzin, Information Systems Coordinator, AMSA
Mr. Scott Read, Acting Operations Manager, Maritime New Zealand, MNZ
Distinguished participants
Ladies and gentlemen

Talofa and Good Morning to you all.

For those that have come here for the first time, welcome to our SPREP campus. For those that have been here before, welcome back. Please come again.

In particular, welcome to these two International Maritime Organisation, IMO, level 3 workshops, that are being implemented with assistance from the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme, SPREP, AMSA and MNZ.

We are delighted that you are able to be here, particularly as I understand this is the first time in 5years that an oil spill regional activity has been held in Samoa.

Tony – you will have to explain to me why it's taken him so long to host an activity at our home base.

SPREP has been undertaking an aggressive change management process over the last 3 years with the aim of delivering better services and advice to our Pacific Island Member countries and territories. We have focused on better partnerships, better definition of priorities and greater application of science in our work.
What is the relevance of this change management process to this workshop?

Firstly we have elevated the priority of waste and pollution so now it is now a stand-alone Division within SPREP rather than a unit within one of our previous programme areas. This is a clear signal as to how important the issues of pollution and waste are for our Members. We have also significantly increased resources at SPREP for addressing waste management and pollution control.

I am pleased that we have strengthened our joint work with donors and partners on marine pollution, particularly the IMO, AMSA and MNZ, as reflected in jointly holding the workshops this week. There are also other important partners for our work on marine pollution, such as the US Coast Guard, USCG

Ladies and Gentlemen, Pacific Island countries have often been referred to as Small Island States.

This concept has now been rightly turned on its head.

Last month's Pacific Islands Forum meeting in the Cook Islands provided the correct perspective through its theme of Large Ocean Island States – correctly reflecting the importance of the Pacific Ocean for our region and the vast size of the Pacific Ocean. As Prime Minister Henry Puna from the Cook Islands so eloquently put it last month: "we are nations joined by a large ocean not separated by it"

The Pacific covers 165 million square kilometers or, to put this into perspective the Pacific is the same size of the surface area of the moon or, as another comparison, double the size of Russia.

Many countries have made major commitments to better protect and manage the Pacific Ocean under the Pacific Oceanscape, an initiative first proposed by the President of Kiribati in 2010 and now gaining momentum.

Oceanscape is an innovative regional vision, recognizing the global significance of the Pacific Ocean.
Oceanscape is a most welcome and exciting initiative but I feel that the issue of marine pollution needs more emphasis and attention.

Discussion of Oceanscape and threats to the marine environment in the Pacific often focus on climate change and the management of fisheries resources and over fishing.

These are critical issues but marine pollution is also a major threat to the Pacific Ocean.

However, this is an issue that tends to be "out of sight, out of mind" until a major disaster occurs.

And some of these disasters have been huge, such as the Exxon Valdez in Alaska, and the Deepwater Horizon in the Gulf of Mexico

Closer to home we also have a number of examples, such as the Rena on the Astrolabe Reef in NZ last year and the Shen Neng on the Great Barrier Reef in 2010. Moving even closer to home and to this workshop was the Forum Samoa II in Apia Harbour in 2009.

We have been fortunate in the Pacific that we have not seen oil spills on the scale of the Exxon Valdez and the Deepwater Horizon but we should not be complacent as they could easily happen.

These incidents underline the importance of these two workshops this week which are focused on oil spill prevention and emergency preparedness for administrators and senior managers.

One of the tools that you will be taking away from these workshops is how to prepare a coastal site sensitivity map.

Site Sensitivity Mapping training and Oil Spill Level 3 training in general are just some of the many training tools developed by the international community to assist countries in meeting their obligations under the International Convention on Oil Pollution Preparedness Response Cooperation 1990 (OPRC) and the Protocol Concerning Cooperation in Combating Pollution Emergencies in the South Pacific Region (Noumea Emergencies Protocol) of the Convention for the Protection of the Natural Resources and Environment of the South Pacific Region (Noumea Convention).

Quite a mouthful! And you will hear a lot more about the details of these during the course of this week.

To date there are only 5 Pacific Island Country parties to the OPRC Convention and 8 Pacific Island Country parties to the Noumea Emergencies Protocol.

As Director General of SPREP, the Secretariat to the Noumea Convention and its protocols, I would like to emphasise how important these instruments are for protecting our marine environment and encourage you all to urge your leaders to ratify the Noumea Convention and its Protocols as well as the OPRC Convention.
Over the next few days the facilitators will elaborate on why your countries should ratify these Conventions and cooperate in preventing oil spills. As the saying goes "accidents do happen, it's only a matter of time. Where there is a hazard, whatever we do is only mitigating the risk."

And these risks are huge, as you all know. Examples such as the Deepwater Horizon also illustrate how wide spread and far reaching the impacts can be - for the economy, for people and for nature

I have mentioned some of the recent oil spill incidents that have occurred, globally and in this region.

There have been many other incidents and I would encourage you to share these with all participants through your country case study presentations, and also informally, over the next few days.

What is also important is to share experience on how these issues have been addressed.

For example, I understand New Zealand is currently going through the assessment of the Rena case and it would be very useful if a fact sheet be produced, drawing out lessons learnt for Pacific Island countries. SPREP will be happy to assist in this exercise.

One of the lessons from these recent incidents is that it is not only important to ratify the OPRC 90 and the Noumea Protocol but it is equally important to ratify the compensation and liability conventions to ensure that countries are able to receive the maximum compensation available.

At our SPREP Meeting last month, Member of the New Zealand Parliament, the Honorable Nick Smith, noted the problems New Zealand faced regarding compensation after the Rena Grounding as pollution was caused by the loss of fuel from the bunker tanks and New Zealand is not a party to the Bunkers Convention.
He noted that this was very costly for New Zealand and strongly urged all SPREP Members to be Parties to the Bunkers Convention so they can be eligible for compensation funds from bunker fuel related pollution.
In fact, there are 4 main compensation and liability conventions and I understand these will be introduced this week.

Unless your countries are able to self insure against millions of dollars of pollution damage it is strongly advisable that these Conventions be ratified as soon as possible.

The Secretariat with its partners AMSA, MNZ and USCG have conducted oil spill Level 1 trainings in all your countries. The secretariat has also conducted Level 2 trainings recently in 2009 in Suva Fiji and 2010 in Port Moresby PNG.

I understand that most of you have been through these Level 1 & 2 trainings and hope that you will find this weeks' Level 3 training just as useful and productive.

Some of you will be part of the review of the Pacific Marine Spill Contingency Plan, PACPLAN that will commence next week with the first review workshop in Auckland, then Sydney and Honolulu. We hope that you will take what you have learnt this week to promote and enhance regional cooperation through the PACPLAN review process.

We also hope that when you return to your home country, you will promote the ratification of the OPRC, the Noumea Convention Emergency Protocol, and the Compensation and Liability Conventions.

And lastly, we hope that you will use the coastal site sensitivity mapping tools to facilitate the development of area coastal site sensitivity maps for National Marine Spill Contingency Response Plans in your country.
In closing, I would like to acknowledge again the assistance of AMSA and MNZ. Tony tells me that it has been a real pleasure to have worked with you on the planning of these workshops and on marine pollution efforts in the region in general. I would like to echo these sentiments. Thank you most sincerely for your cooperation and support

I would also like to acknowledge the leadership and support from IMO on marine pollution efforts in the Pacific region. I am very pleased to note that this support has been increasing in recent years.

I wish you well in this training, however, as the saying goes "all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy" so I encourage you to use the every opportunity to explore and enjoy beautiful Samoa. If you would like any tips, particularly if you would like to go paddling, then please see Tony.

I wish you all the best for successful, enjoyable and productive workshops this week

Faafetai tele lava, thank you.