Participant speaks at the seminar. (Source: VNA)

Da Nang (VNA) - Vietnam has shared its experience in oil spill preparedness and response, highlighting the importance of developing oil spill contingency plans at provincial and local levels along the need to develop local government capacities in this field.

At a seminar held within the framework of the 5th East Asian Seas Congress in the central city of Da Nang from November 16-21, representatives of Vietnam, other member countries of the Partnerships in Environmental Management for the Seas of East Asia (PEMSEA) and international organisations also discussed recent developments in oil spill preparedness and response.

The seminar updated participants on trends in oil spills from tankers, best practices in developing effective response strategies and contingency plans, developments in the compensation regime for oil spills and industry collaboration through the International Petroleum Industry Environmental Conservation Association (IPIECA).

Despite increasing transport of oil at sea, a study conducted by the International Tanker Owners Pollution Federation Limited (ITOPF) found a decreasing trend in oil spills from tankers. However, Jessika Fuessel of ITOPF stressed that even small oil spills can still cause serious environmental damage and economic losses.

It was noted that response operations for oil spill incidents at sea involving two or more countries is complicated and challenging, particularly if these countries have different response polices and techniques.

Presentations and discussions at the seminar provided valuable information to countries in attendance to review and update their national contingency plans and develop a strategic action plan for the Gulf of Thailand.

As an international cooperation mechanism, PEMSEA was established in 1994 on the basis of agreement between parties regarding the East Asian seas, including 12 countries, private sectors, research and education institutes, international and financial organisations, and donors. PEMSEA is also a regional coordination mechanism to implement the Sustainable Development Strategy for the Seas of East Asia (SDS-SEA).

The nations involved in PEMSEA comprise Cambodia, China, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Indonesia, Japan, Laos, the Philippines, Singapore, the Republic of Korea, Timor Leste, Thailand and Vietnam.-VNA