Lead delegates in attendance are from left: Cheri Hunter, USA; Anne Reglain, RAC/REMPEITC; Lorraine Armbrister, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Transport and Aviation; Hon. Glenys Hanna-Martin, Minister of Transport and Aviation and Hon. Hope Strachan, Minister of State in the Ministry of Transport and Aviation. Standing from left are Robert Pond, USA; Ricardo Gonzalez Carillo, Mexico; Gerson Obed Vega Ibarra, Mexico; Captain Gaspar Escobedo, Mexico and Ernesto Soberon Guzman, Embassy of Cuba in The Bahamas.
Nassau, Bahamas - In an effort to enhance the
state of readiness for the wider Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico for
oil spill response, planning and cooperation, the Regional Marine Pollution
Emergency Information and Training Center for the Wider Caribbean (REMPEITC-Caribe)
and the Ministry of Transport and Aviation are hosting a regional Oil
spill Planning, Response and Cooperation (OPRC) meeting in Nassau
on 19-20 March, 2013, at SuperClubs Breezes. This meeting marks the
fifth meeting of the regional group dating back to December 2011. The
first meeting was held in The Bahamas.
Addressing delegates at the opening ceremony of this
final meeting was Transport and Aviation Minister the Hon. Glenys Hanna-Martin
who reminded delegates just why these meetings and the creation of a
comprehensive Regional Oil Spill Response Plan were of such critical
importance to regional stakeholders.
“The Maconda incident in the Gulf of Mexico in
2010 where 4.9 million barrels of oil were released into the marine
environment was an ugly wake up call for not only nations regionally
but for the entire world. That catastrophe illustrated most graphically
that international cooperation and clearly regional cooperation and
assistance are vital in effectively responding to tier 3 oil spills”
said the Minister.
Further, the Minister underscored
the necessity of marine environmental protection by pointing out that without exception, regional countries not only rely heavily on the
marine environment to support their way of life, but to embellish their
“It is clear that the nations of this region, without
exception, place a premium on our marine environments to our ways of
life, even to a large extent to our national identity and so the protection
of the marine environment in not only our respective countries but also
the entire region is a critical necessity” she said.
Putting this meeting into perspective and within
the context of national development, Hanna-Martin said that “we (The
Bahamas Government) are now reviewing our own national plan to ensure
a level of preparedness in each of these islands that comprise our country
and also to anticipate new events that might put at risk our treasured
marine environment such as, e.g. oil exploration activities.”
Characterizing the role of RAC-REMPEITC in this regional
initiative as “indispensable,” Minister Hanna-Martin praised that
body for being “singular and extremely instrumental in facilitating
activities in the wider Caribbean relating to oil spills and maritime
growth and development in general” as its work continues to build
capacity and inculcate a culture of safety among regional countries.
Attending this most important
meeting are The Republic of Cuba, Mexico, The United States of America
and The Bahamas.
Mr. Peter Deveaux-Isaacs heads
the Bahamian delegation at this task force meeting including government
agencies such as the Ministry of Transport and Aviation, the Ministry of the Environment
and Housing, the Office of the Attorney General and Ministry of Legal
Affairs, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Royal Bahamas Defence
Force and the Department of Environment Health Services and the Port
Also attending are diplomats from the countries represented
at the task force meeting, including Ernesto Soberón Guzmán, Ambassador
for the Republic of Cuba.
Coming out of this meeting will be a completed multi-lateral
oil spill response document that will become an annex to the Wider Caribbean
Regional Response Plan that will further enhance regional preparedness
and cooperation for oversight of the offshore oil exploration and exploitation