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Shared solutions for marine pollution

News Item 2019

Shared solutions for marine pollution - JNCC organises pollution response workshop

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency’s National Contingency Plan (NCP) details the UK Government response to marine pollution from shipping and offshore installations. It sets out arrangements for dealing with pollution, or the threat of pollution, from ships and offshore installations. Under this framework, JNCC is a core member of the Environment Group (EG) as the statutory nature conservation body for the offshore area (beyond 12 nautical miles). Our role during an incident is to provide nature conservation information and advice in relation to immediate environmental offshore sensitivities. When an incident has occurred, our experts work closely with members of the EG to discuss response plans and provide recommendations and advice to decision makers. We provide seabird, marine mammal, benthic species, habitat and marine protected areas advice and can assist in environmental survey design. If the incident spreads into the inshore area, we would support the relevant inshore nature conservation agency and the EG as necessary.

Image; Workshop slide with partners logos included (Oil Spill Response and IPIECA alongside JNCC)

The use of dispersants during oil spills has gathered much press interest and controversy over the years. Consideration of dispersants as a response option is time-critical as there is a brief window before hydrocarbons become naturally weathered, rendering dispersants useless. Recent pollution exercises and incidents have highlighted some uncertainty around the use, fate and effects of chemical dispersants. To address this, JNCC organised a workshop bringing together key decision-makers and advisers from UK Government involved in pollution response. The workshop, in partnership with Oil Spill Response Limited (OSRL) and the global oil and gas industry association for environmental and social issues (IPIECA), brought together colleagues from 18 agencies and organisations. Expert sessions – covering response options, dispersants use, decision-making and practical considerations, licensing for use, effectiveness monitoring and considerations for environmental impact assessment – generated constructive discussions that will shape future action and best practice. This opportunity to bring together responding agencies to share knowledge and build relationships will prove invaluable in future marine pollution responses. Key outcomes and actions from the workshop were summarised in a report published in December. Our thanks go to OSRL and IPIECA who worked with our Marine Management team to make the workshop a success. 

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