The recent Extraordinary High-Level Regional Meeting (EHLRM) on the Marine Environment Protection of the Southeast Asian Seas (MEPSEAS) Project hosted by the Maritime Industry Authority (Marina) tackled the impact of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic in their efforts to protect the marine environment in the ASEAN region.
The EHLRM, a meeting of officials of maritime administrations of International Maritime Organization (IMO) member countries in the ASEAN region, met with MEPSEAS Project representatives via video conference on March 17 and reviewed the changes in the project’s operations due to the pandemic.
The MEPSEAS Project is a 4-year IMO initiative in cooperation with the Norwegian Agency for the Development (NORAD) to help East Asian countries ratify and implement IMO Conventions related to marine environment protection. It is now in its fourth year.
As the chairman of the meeting, Marina Administrator Robert Empedrad stressed the commitment of the IMO Member States in the region in protecting the marine environment despite the unprecedented challenges brought by the pandemic to the maritime industry.
“I am certain there is much to be shared and learned as we strive to face the devastating effects of the Covid-19 virus through shared cooperation.
The pandemic notwithstanding, will not deter us as we remain resolute in carrying out the activities as laid down in our respective National Strategic Action Plans (NSAPs),” Empedrad said.
During the meeting proper, the IMO Project Coordination Unit gave updates on the project as well as the risk mitigation actions taken and lessons learned in the COVID-19 pandemic.
Jose Matheickal of the IMO, who attended the meeting, thanked the IMO member countries in the region for considering the solutions for marine environment challenges as a priority.
Delegates from the project’s beneficiary countries reported the development in their scorecards and adoption of their respective actions, including successes and challenges related to the accession of the chosen IMO Conventions.
On the part of the Philippines, Transportation Assistant Secretary for Maritime VAdm Narciso A Vingson Jr. reported the developments in implementing the International Convention on the Control of Harmful Anti-Fouling Systems in Ships and International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships’ Ballast Water and Sediments in the Philippines.
He mentioned that the country would institutionalize the inter-agency mechanism, strengthen the Marina Maritime Training Institute, mainstream implementation of Ballast Water Management (BWM) and Anti-fouling Systems (AFS) Conventions into medium-term development plans and existing national action plans.