The Protocol on Preparedness, Response and Co-operation to pollution Incidents by Hazardous and Noxious Substances (OPRC-HNS Protocol) follows the principles of the OPRC Convention and was formally adopted by States already Party to the OPRC Convention at a Diplomatic Conference held at IMO headquarters in London in March 2000.
Like the OPRC Convention, the OPRC-HNS Protocol aims to establish national systems for preparedness and response and to provide a global framework for international co-operation in combating major incidents or threats of marine pollution. Parties to the OPRC-HNS Protocol 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 pollution emergency plan to deal specifically with incidents involving hazardous and noxious substances.
The OPRC-HNS Protocol ensures that ships carrying hazardous and noxious substances are covered by preparedness and response regimes similar to those already in existence for oil incidents.
For the purposes of the HNS Protocol, a Hazardous and Noxious Substance is defined as any substance other than oil which, if introduced into the marine environment is likely to create hazards to human health, to harm living resources and marine life, to damage amenities or to interfere with other legitimate uses of the sea.
Note: It should be noted that the definition of an HNS as defined by the OPRC-HNS Protocol 2000 differs widely from the definition of an HNS under the International Convention on Liability and Compensation for Damage in Connection with the Carriage of Hazardous and Noxious Substances (HNS) by sea, otherwise knows as the HNS Convention.