The Arab States & Mediterranean region is characterized by its dependence on the maritime sector. It has a coastline of approximately 24,300 km facing the Atlantic Ocean, the Arabian, Mediterranean and Red Seas and the Gulfs of Aden and Oman. Most of these waters are used as international routes for oil and chemical tankers, which expose these countries to the risks of maritime navigation and marine pollution. Three waterways in the region have been designated as Special Areas under the provisions of MARPOL 73/78.
Of the 21 IMO Member States in the region, four countries are Least Developed Countries (LDCs) and two are Small Island Developing States (SIDS). Two countries, Egypt and Morocco, were elected to the IMO Council in November 2011 for a period of two years.
Priority programme for 2012-2013
The Programme will provide support to maritime development in the region, where the volume of maritime transport is expected to increase. This will have an important impact on maritime safety and security as well as on the marine environment.
Consequently, maritime administrations in the region will face significant challenges. As such, IMO will provide them with further capacity-building support to implement IMO conventions with a focus on the promotion of human resources.
Additionally, support will be given to strengthen existing national and regional frameworks for the protection of the marine environment and for the alleviation of poverty as any degradation of the coastal environment could provoke a negative economic impact and contribute to poverty. Within these perspectives, the facilitation of international maritime traffic will also be covered by the Programme.
The specific objectives of the Programme are as follows:
- Provide support to enhance flag and port State capabilities through the development of national human resources;
- Provide the necessary knowledge and skills to SAR personnel, ship inspectors and simulator operators; and
- Assist in the ratification of marine environment protection conventions (OPRC, MARPOL, AFS, BWM), promote awareness of the international compensation regime and claims management as well as waste management and in the training of administrators, senior managers and supervisors in order that they may provide a responsive mechanism at both national and regional levels to combat oil spills.
The promotion of human resources
To address this issue, the region has, with IMO’s support, put in place a maritime training network which provides basic training, as specified by the 1995 STCW Convention.
Maritime training institutions in the region now provide advanced training facilities and produce the necessary seafarers for the region.
So far, 19 countries have accepted the 1995 STCW Convention, of which 17 have communicated information pursuant to regulation I/7, demonstrating that they are giving full and complete effect to the relevant provisions of the STCW Convention, as amended.
Partnerships with regional and/or national institutions
Following successful cooperation between IMO and both Member States and regional organizations, arrangements on technical cooperation have been signed with:
- Egypt and the Arab Academy for Science, Technology and Maritime Transport (AASTMT) to facilitate IMO's access to the AASTMT's existing technical facilities for the delivery of regional Integrated Technical Cooperation Programme (ITCP) activities in the region;
- The Regional Organization for the Conservation of the Environment of the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden (PERSGA) to implement various ITCP activities in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden; and
- The Jordan Academy for Maritime Studies to provide support to the delivery of ITCP activities.
IMO maintains good working relations with a number of regional organizations, such as the Regional Marine Pollution Emergency Response Centre for the Mediterranean Sea (REMPEC), the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf (GCC), the Marine Emergency Mutual Aid Centre (MEMAC) and the Regional Organization for the Protection of the Marine Environment (ROPME).