Arctic nations adopt marine oil pollution preparedness agreement

The world’s Arctic nations formally agreed to cooperate on marine oil pollution preparedness and response at the Arctic Council’s May 15 meeting in Kiruna, Sweden.

The agreement, which was the second legally binding pact negotiated under the council’s auspices, also encourages future national, binational, and multinational contingency plans, training, and exercises to develop effective response measures.

“Effective prevention, including related containment practices, is critical to ensuring the protection of the Arctic marine environment from oil pollution incidents,” the agreement said.

It welcomed recommended practices from reports the Prevention of Arctic Marine Oil Pollution Project developed, and encouraged Arctic nations to work further in recommended areas.

It also established a taskforce to develop an Arctic Council action plan or other arrangement on oil pollution prevention, and to present the outcomes of its work and any recommendations for further action at the next ministerial meeting in 2015.

US Sec. of State John F. Kerry, who attended the May 15 meeting, said the agreement provides an important cooperation framework.

“As the United States was reminded painfully in the Gulf of Mexico 3 years ago, we need strong partnerships and shared operational guidelines before a disaster occurs in order to make sure that we’re able to respond,” Kerry said.

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