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Wrap-up: EPPR meetings in Montreal

“We covered so much ground here, and it was great to sense so much progress being made in these important areas." - EPPR Chair Amy Merten

The Arctic Council’s Working Group on Emergency Prevention, Preparedness, and Response (EPPR) met on 13-15 June 2016 in Montreal, Canada. The delegates in attendance used their days together to cover a wide range of their ongoing work, including:

Reflecting on the outcome of the table-top exercise, EPPR Chair Amy Merten said: “This has been a very comprehensive and inclusive process. I commend the USCG for its efforts in documenting its exercise process. The exercise was also performed in phases, so it gave every country many opportunities to contribute and allowed all of the delegations to dig into the issues of providing resources to international events.”

The exercise was led by the United States, which also holds the Chairmanship of the Arctic Council through spring of 2017.

The Exercise Design Team lead, LCDR Wes James (U.S. Coast Guard) noted that: ”This exercise provided great insight into the partnership that is EPPR. We worked together to build an exercise process that not only included the United States as the team lead, but also used a Norwegian scenario, hosted by Canada in Montreal, and was evaluated by representatives from Canada and Finland. By doing so, we created a better process that will continue to enhance this multilateral forum whose ultimate goal is to ensure the protection of the Arctic marine environment.”

The SAR expert group’s discussions focused on developing its work plan, sharing upcoming SAR exercise information, and interactions with the Arctic Coast Guard Forum (ACGF). Coming out of the meeting, delegates reaffirmed the need for the SAR expert group and continued communication with the ACGF.

Speaking shortly after the meeting, Chair Amy Merten said: “We covered so much ground here, and it was great to sense so much progress being made in these important areas. In particular, I was excited about the culmination of the MOSPA exercise, and everyone’s enthusiasm for how worthwhile it was. Any opportunity like this to forge lasting working relationships across borders and agencies has a real, long-term benefit for our ability to work in this challenging region. And, of course, it’s great to be able to gather in Montreal, which is such a beautiful and historic city.”

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” and for the 2011 “Agreement on Cooperation on Aeronautical and Maritime Search and Rescue in the Arctic.”

The meeting in Montreal was attended by representatives from all eight Arctic States. EPPR’s previous meeting was held in Reykjavik, Iceland on 1-2 December 2015.