The Arctic Council’s Working Group on Emergency Prevention, Preparedness and Response (EPPR) met on 1-3 December 2015 in Reykjavik, Iceland. Following their last meeting in Svalbard, EPPR met to discuss the group’s work on issues critical in the Arctic such as search-and-rescue (SAR) and preparedness and response to marine oil spills. EPPR is the Arctic Council’s point-of-contact for implementation of the 2013 Agreement on Cooperation on Marine Oil Pollution Preparedness and Response in the Arctic (MOSPA).
At their meeting in Reykjavik, Chair of EPPR Amy Merten and Executive Secretary Patti Bruns shepherded delegates representing the Arctic States and indigenous Permanent Participant organizations through discussions on:
- final plans for the 2016 MOSPA exercise;
- follow-up to the Framework Plan for Cooperation on Prevention of Oil Pollution from Petroleum and Maritime Activities in the Marine Areas of the Arctic (2015); and
- implementation of the Agreement on Cooperation on Aeronautical and Maritime Search and Rescue in the Arctic (2011).
EPPR delegates also reviewed the status of existing projects, and approved new projects, within EPPR’s mandate. Delegates approved a new radiation project (led by Norway), ARCSAFE, for improving radiation safety, and agreed to review two documents in support of the 2015 Framework Plan on oil pollution prevention, including the development of an implementation matrix for review in 2016. They also agreed to update the EPPR Field Guide for Oil Spill Response in Arctic Waters, and to establish an expert group on SAR.
In addition, EPPR considered potential future projects on risk assessment (a proposal led by Norway) and natural disasters, specifically spring flooding in northern communities (a proposal led by UArctic).
Speaking shortly after the meeting, Chair Amy Merten said:
“I look forward to each of these meetings; it’s great to be able to work with this exceptional group of people. Here in Reykjavik we made a lot of progress in particular on finalizing plans for the upcoming exercise of the MOSPA Operational Guidelines in 2016 and the establishment of an expert group to support the SAR agreement, both of which are critical parts of EPPR’s work. I’m very grateful to our hosts for an excellent meeting. It was great to have a strong delegation from Iceland at the meeting.”
EPPR is the Arctic Council’s point-of-contact for follow up work on the 2013 Agreement on Cooperation on Marine Oil Pollution Preparedness and Response in the Arctic, the Agreement on Cooperation on Aeronautical and Maritime Search and Rescue in the Arctic, and the Framework Plan for Cooperation on Prevention of Oil Pollution from Petroleum and Maritime Activities in the Marine Areas of the Arctic.
Representatives from all eight Arctic States, one Permanent Participant organization (the Aleut International Association) and five accredited Observers attended the meeting in Reykjavik.