Response to Incidents

Despite efforts to increase maritime safety there will always be the risk of incidents. With a combination of growing levels of maritime transportation and the expansion of other human activities, such as renewable energy development, the risks for the marine environment increase. Contracting Parties therefore aim to improve their joint response to incidents, based on risk assessments, ensuring counter-pollution activities are executed with the best available techniques and equipment.

Counter Pollution Manual

One of the Bonn Agreement's major aims is to facilitate cooperation between the Contracting Parties in response to large maritime disasters and other emergencies. To ensure that cooperation is effective and efficient, common understanding is needed on many issues such as command structures, communications, organisation and claims management. To ensure this common understanding, these issues have been outlined in the Bonn Agreement Counter Pollution Manual.

Oil Pollution Combating Strategy

The overall strategy for combatting spills is outlined in Chapter 22 of the Counter Pollution Manual (CPM), including combatting oil at sea, on shore and in estuaries, and outlines the approaches to be taken. The CPM also contains detailed advice on Command Structure (Chapter 2), Radio Communications (Chapter 3), Organisational issues (Chapter 30) and Reimbursement (Chapter 33) all of which are key to successful joint operations to combat oil spills.

Sub-regional response plans

The Bonn Agreement also includes several Joint Zones of Responsibility for response to incidents. For some of these joint zones there are also sub-regional response plans such as the DenGerNeth Plan covering Denmark, Netherlands and German response zones, the Mancheplan covering the Channel waters between France and the UK and the NorBrit Plan covering the offshore zone between the UK and Norway.

European Union

Forth Fischer
Forth Fischer

The European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) also supports Bonn Agreement countries with complementary operational services namely a satellite based oil spill monitoring and surveillance service (CleanSeaNet), a network of stand-by oil spill response vessels for at-sea oil recovery and a chemical (HNS) specific information service (Mar-ice).

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The Greater North Sea and its wider approaches is one of the busiest and most highly used maritime areas in the world. With the ever-increasing competition for space comes an increased risk of accidents that could result in marine pollution.