Bonn Agreement Counter Pollution Manual

Over the years, the Bonn Agreement has adopted a number of decisions to facilitate joint operations to combat pollution or to put the Bonn Agreement into practice. These decisions and other practical information are contained in the Bonn Agreement Counter Pollution Manual. This Manual, which is regularly updated, comprises three volumes: Volume 1 on information needed for counter-pollution operations, Volume 2 containing general reference material concerning the policy/strategy of pollution combating and Volume 3 on the administration related to incidents.

The Bonn Agreement technical working group OTSOPA keeps the Manual under review to ensure that best available technologies are being used. 

Bonn Agreement Aerial Operations Handbook

Operational discharges from shipping are one of the main sources of oil pollution in the North Sea. It was for this reason that, in 1989, the Bonn Agreement was amended to include in its remit the duty to perform aerial surveillance flights in order to detect pollution. One year later the Bonn Agreement published the Bonn Agreement Aerial Surveillance Handbook to provide aerial surveillance teams with information on how to carry out surveillance within the Bonn Agreement area.

The Handbook is intended to be a convenient manual which crews and operators can use during flights. It describes remote sensing techniques as well as cooperation in flight. Aircrews who detect pollution during their flights report the pollution at the end of their flight using standardised forms included in the Handbook.

The Handbook is regularly reviewed and updated by a designated lead country. In 2004, the Bonn Agreement Oil Appearance Code (BAOAC) and Guidelines for its Use were added to the Handbook. In 2008, the Aerial Surveillance Handbook was expanded into, and renamed, the “Aerial Operations Handbook” to include guidance on the role of aircraft in response operations. One of the lessons learned from the Prestige incident was that such material can be helpful as recovery vessels can work more effectively if they receive guidance from aircraft above. Other additions were: a new introductory section; implementation of satellite imagery; aerial spraying of dispersants; information on MARPOL Annexes I, II and V; national information including national surveillance routing points and a map of pollution control zone surveillance regions.

The revised and updated Aerial Operations Handbook is based on long-term experience and is intended to be made available as widely as possible as a flagship Bonn Agreement product.

The AOH is supported by the BAOAC Photo Atlas which comprises an array of exemplary photos of aerial observations of different types of oil slicks from accidental or illegal discharges from ships or oil rigs, including SLAR and IR/UV images, together with explanatory texts.

The Bonn Agreement Oil Appearance Code

The Bonn Agreement Oil Appearance Code

BAOAC presentation

The Bonn Agreement Appearance Code (BAAC) was first developed by the Bonn Agreement in 1993 to estimate the volume of oil on the sea surface. The code used visual inspection to estimate the amount of oil spilled on the sea surface. The code initially had seven different colours, each one related to different thicknesses of spilled oil. However, this proved difficult to use and therefore the colour code was revised to five different colours. It was renamed the Bonn Agreement Oil Appearance Code (BAOAC) and entered into effect on 1 January 2004.

Experience of using the BAOAC over the years is that it is a valid way of relating the appearance of oil to the thickness of the oil layer and thus calculating the volume of the spill. It is supported by scientific literature, small-scale laboratory experiments, mid-scale outdoor experiments and large–scale experiments at sea trials. Operators require training and practice to use the code effectively. Today the BAOAC is applied by operators and surveillance aircraft throughout the world.