In July 1989, a conference of leading industrial nations in Paris called upon IMO to develop further measures to prevent pollution from ships. This call was endorsed by the IMO Assembly in November of the same year and work began on a draft convention aimed at providing a global framework for international co-operation in combating major incidents or threats of marine pollution.
Parties to the International Convention on Oil Pollution Preparedness, Response and Co-operation (OPRC) are required to establish measures for dealing with pollution incidents, either nationally or in co-operation with other countries.
Ships are required to carry a shipboard oil pollution emergency plan. Operators of offshore units under the jurisdiction of Parties are also required to have oil pollution emergency plans or similar arrangements which must be co-ordinated with national systems for responding promptly and effectively to oil pollution incidents.
Ships are required to report incidents of pollution to coastal authorities and the convention details the actions that are then to be taken. The Convention calls for the establishment of stockpiles of oil spill combating equipment, the holding of oil spill combating exercises and the development of detailed plans for dealing with pollution incidents.
Parties to the convention are required to provide assistance to others in the event of a pollution emergency and provision is made for the reimbursement of any assistance provided.
The Convention provides for IMO to play an important co-ordinating role.
A Protocol to the OPRC relating to hazardous and noxious substances (OPRC-HNS Protocol) was adopted in 2000.