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Bahamas hosts oil spill response workshop opened by Minister of Transport
By BIS
Mar 19, 2013 - 5:50:00 PM

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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 national identities.  

“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.  

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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 Department.

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 industry.


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