Basseterre, St. Kitts, March 11, 2019 (SKNIS):The Opening Ceremony for the Sub-Regional Level II Workshop on the Oil Pollution Response Convention (OPRC) and International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) Guidance on the Implementation of an Incident Management System (IMS) was held on March 11 at the Royal St. Kitts Hotel to mark the start of a three day forum.
Minister of Public Infrastructure, the Honourable Ian “Patches” Liburd, said that the international convention on oil pollution preparedness response convention (OPRC) of 1990 came into force on the 31st of May 1995 and the main objectives of the OPRC convention are to facilitate international cooperation and mutual assistance in preparing and responding to marine pollution incidents and to encourage states to develop and maintain adequate capability to deal with credible pollution emergencies.
“It provides a global framework for international cooperation in combating major incidents or threats of marine pollution,” he said, and added that parties to the convention are required to provide assistance to others in the event of pollution emergencies with provisions made for reimbursement for any assistance provided.
He said that empirical history has taught that oil and chemical spills have wide ranging and far reaching effects on the marine environment and that St. Kitts and Nevis takes the protection of marine and coastal environment seriously.
“In St. Kitts and Nevis, we have acceded to the MARPOL convention which is the primary IMO instrument for the prevention of ship source pollution as we have an obligation to respond to all cases of oil pollution within our territorial waters,” he said, while adding that countries within the Caribbean Region that have ratified the relevant treaties must be equipped with the necessary resources, training programmes, and measures to mitigate against pollution and also facilitate a response in keeping with the objectives of the convention.
“In St. Kitts and Nevis, we have invested heavily in navigational safety and we also uphold high standards within our ports. Notwithstanding the close attention given to the prevention, however, I believe that we all agree that it is virtually impossible to guarantee that accidents will never happen,” said Minister Liburd.
He further noted that, “such an approach, such a mindset would neither be practical or cost effective, instead the key is to maintain a high level of vigilance and to ensure that we are always ready to respond swiftly and effectively to any chemical and/or oil spill that occurs.”
The Minister expressed his thanks to the IMO, UNEP and RAC/REMPETIC-Caribe for choosing the Federation as the preferred country for hosting the workshop.
“We are fortunate and ought to be grateful to the almighty God that no catastrophic case of oil pollution has occurred within the region for several decades but we must not become complacent but instead be proactive and enhance our ability to respond to any case of an oil spill in the region in an efficient and effective manner,” said Minister Liburd.
He said that the protection of the marine environment is important to the social and economic development of St. Kitts and Nevis and the entire Region on a whole and it is therefore vital that capacity is built both locally and regionally as it relates to the requirements MARPOL Annex 1, which speaks to oil pollution.