The framework conditions for maritime safety, maritime transport and emergency preparedness are largely laid down internationally, and legally binding international cooperation and international regulatory development are crucial for maritime safety in Norwegian waters.
Much of the work that takes place internationally, particularly in the EU and IMO, has a direct impact on the services provided by the Norwegian Coastal Administration. The Norwegian Coastal Administration therefore places a large emphasis on active participation in international forums with a view to contributing to developments in line with Norwegian wishes and requirements and to help secure the most harmonised framework conditions possible.
IMO – International Maritime Organisation
The International Maritime Organisation (IMO) is a United Nations agency and the most important international cooperation arena in the field of maritime safety and the prevention of pollution at sea.
IMO devises regulations and standards for international shipping in relation to, for example, maritime safety (the SOLAS Convention and the ISPS Code), pollution (MARPOL and the OPRC Convention), certification and training (the STCW Convention). The Ministry of Trade and Industry and the Norwegian Maritime Authority appoint and chair the Norwegian delegations in IMO’s committees.
For maritime safety issues, the work primarily takes place in the main committee, the Maritime Safety Committee (MSC), and the subcommittee on Navigation, Communication, Search and Rescue (NCSR). For emergency preparedness, the work takes place in the main committee, the Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC), and the subcommittee on Pollution Prevention and Response (PPR).
IALA – International Association of Marine Aids to Navigation and Lighthouse Authorities
IALA is a non-profit, international technical organisation whose work involves harmonising maritime services and infrastructure and developing international guidelines and standards.
The organisation gives responsible authorities, manufacturers and consultants in maritime services and infrastructure the opportunity to exchange experiences and achievements. IALA’s technical committees bring together experts from around the world with the aim of developing common standards and guidelines.
The Norwegian Coastal Administration actively participates in several of IALA’s committees and forums that carry out work of professional and strategic importance to the Norwegian Coastal Administration. The Norwegian Coastal Administration is also represented on IALA’s governing body, the Council.
EU, including EMSA
The EU has established a crisis assistance coordination mechanism, in which Norway is a member. The coordination mechanism is coordinated by the EU’s Emergency Response Coordination Centre (ERCC) in Brussels. Through this, the EU and its member states can request assistance in the event of pollution incidents in EU countries or countries outside the EU.
Norway has trained several experts through the EU system who can provide crisis assistance in oil-spill preparedness, and a Norwegian expert was used during the Costa Concordia accident in Italy in 2012.
EMSA – European Maritime Safety Agency
EMSA is the EU body for maritime safety and emergency preparedness in acute pollution. EMSA is an advisory body to the European Commission related to the development, updating and implementation of EU regulations in the field of maritime safety and environmental preparedness.
EMSA is also responsible for developing and operating technical solutions related to the implementation of these regulations and for providing member countries with technical assistance. This entails, inter alia, facilitating cooperation in reporting services and the exchange of information on shipping traffic.
EMSA has established working groups for the operation and development of these systems, and Norway is an active contributor.
The EU has established a pool of oil-spill response vessels that can assist member states in the event of an oil spill. These can be activated through the coordination mechanism.
In 1969, IMO established the International Convention on Civil Liability for Oil Pollution Damage (CLC). The Convention places almost objective liability for oil pollution on the owners of oil-carrying ships.
The International Convention on the Establishment of an International Fund for Compensation for Oil Pollution Damage was founded by IMO in 1971. The International Oil Pollution Compensation (IOPC) Fund was established under the Convention. The purpose of the IOPC Fund was to take over the shipowner’s liability under CLC and provide additional compensation for pollution damage.
The conventions have been revised, and are now known as the 1992 Civil Liability Convention and the 1992 Fund Convention. In 2003, IMO adopted the International Oil Pollution Compensation Supplementary Fund, which provides for a large increase in the amount that will be available to the victims of oil pollution from a tanker compared to before.
The IOPC Fund pays compensation for pollution incidents in member countries and for discharges of mineral oil (such as crude oil, heating oil, heavy diesel oil, lubricating oil) from tankers. The IOPC Fund is financed through contributions from the recipients of the oil.
Arctic Council, including Emergency Prevention Preparedness and Response Working Group (EPPR)
The Arctic Council is an intergovernmental body that promotes cooperation on issues related to the challenges faced by the Arctic countries. The aim is to promote sustainable development with regard to the environment, social conditions and the economy. The Arctic Council’s secretariat in Tromsø was established in 2013.
The Arctic Council was formally established in 1996 when the member states’ foreign ministers adopted the Ottawa Declaration on Arctic cooperation. The member countries are Canada, Denmark including the Faroe Islands and Greenland, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden and the United States. A further six international indigenous organisations have the status of permanent participants in the Council. Several non-Arctic states, international organisations and non-profit organisations have observer status in the Arctic Council.
The work on maritime safety and preparedness within the Arctic Council is carried out through the working groups Emergency Prevention Preparedness and Response (EPPR) and Protection of the Arctic Marine Environment (PAME). The Arctic Council can also establish temporary working groups to undertake specific tasks, and these report directly to the ministerial meeting, which is the Arctic Council’s decision-making arena.
International emergency preparedness agreements and international assistance
Where a response to acute pollution is particularly extensive, international assistance may be required. Other countries may also request Norwegian assistance or ask Norway to urge other countries to provide assistance. Norway has signed several international agreements that help ensure speedy implementation of requests for assistance. Annual meetings and exercises are an important part of the international work.
Norway is a member of the following international agreements on oil-spill preparedness:
- The Copenhagen Agreement between the Nordic countries, including Greenland and the Faroe Islands
- The Bonn Agreement, which applies to the countries around the North Sea and Ireland
- The Norway-Russia Barents Sea Treaty
- The Agreement on Cooperation on Marine Oil Pollution Preparedness and Response in the Arctic (United States, Canada, Russia, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Iceland and Denmark)
- The NorBrit Agreement
In addition, Norway can request assistance through the EU.
Experiences from international assistance in emergency preparedness for acute pollution
Since 2005, there have been two incidents in Norway where assistance was requested from neighbouring countries; the running aground of Full City in 2009 and the running aground of Godafoss in 2011. In both incidents, the neighbouring countries were asked for assistance under the Copenhagen Agreement.
The experiences with the assistance were regarded as positive, but shortcomings were also revealed in the routines for border crossing. These experiences were included in a guide for host nation support drawn up by the Norwegian Directorate for Civil Protection (DSB). This guide is based on the EU’s Host Nation Support Guidelines.
During the Macondo accident at the Gulf of Mexico in 2011, the United States requested international assistance. Norway’s contribution was to provide oil-spill response equipment. Both Norway and the United States learned a number of lessons from this incident. Following the incident, the United States took the initiative to develop a guide in the form of IMO International Offers of Assistance. Norway participated in the development of this guide.
The Oil for Development Programme
Norad has established a dedicated Oil for Development (OfD) secretariat. The work of the OfD entails a programme to strengthen the partner countries’ ability to utilise oil and gas resources effectively. Environmental expertise and good oil-spill preparedness and systems will be developed to ensure that countries manage their economy in this area effectively.
The Norwegian Coastal Administration provides competence to establish and implement preparedness plans and facilitates the exchange of experiences in managing incidents. As of 2018, the Norwegian Coastal Administration is involved in developing oil-spill preparedness in Kenya, Mozambique, Myanmar, Tanzania and Uganda.
Together with the Norwegian Environment Agency, the Norwegian Coastal Administration forms the environmental component of the programme.