July 8th 2020

The Working Group on Operational, Technical and Scientific Questions Concerning Counter-Pollution Activities (OTSOPA) 2020 was held online on 26-28 May with the aim to do progress reporting and “bridge the gap” between the previous and next years’ OTSOPA meetings. Representatives from Belgium, Denmark, the European Union, France, Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom, and REMPEC as an observer attended the meeting.

OTSOPA 2020 made good progress regardless of being an online meeting and addressing a reduced agenda.

The meeting reviewed the implementation of the different tasks included in the Bonn Agreement Strategic Action Plan (BASAP) 2019-2025 and decided to further discuss research priorities which needed external funding at a dedicated videoconference in September 2020.

OTSOPA 2020 held discussions on a regional definition of ‘significant acute pollution’ and a common approach on environmental impact monitoring and assessment for MSFD reporting; and agreed that further work was needed on this issue in cooperation with OSPAR.

Regarding the monitoring of air emissions from shipping under MARPOL Annex VI, steps were given to move forward on operational considerations and the terms of reference to prepare a Bonn Agreement MARPOL Annex VI Experts’ Workshop in 1Q of 2021 were agreed.

Cedre, ITOPF and ISPRA presented the draft version of the Joint Inter-regional Response Manual for HNS Spills developed under the Western Mediterranean Region Marine Oil & HNS Pollution Cooperation (West MOPoCo) and the meeting agreed on a timeline to further participate in the preparation of the Manual.

The IMAROS project (Improving response capacities and understanding the environmental impacts of new generation low sulphur MARine fuel Oil Spills) was presented and Contracting Parties were invited to contribute in the compilation of knowledge.

The aerial and satellite surveillance data was discussed and actions were agreed to finalise the reports for Bonn 2020.

And finally, lessons learnt from pollution incidents were shared at the meeting, including two wreck cases, the Grande America and Tanio in France, and an accidental release of plastic pellets in Norway.