Jamaica hosts crucial oil spill planning workshop


Being prepared for an oil spill is a crucial contingency planning measure for maritime countries and Island States such as Jamaica.

With this in mind, the Maritime Authority of Jamaica (MAJ) co-hosted with the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management, a regional workshop on February 19 to 21, 2024, to assist Jamaica with updating its National Oil Spill Contingency Plan (NOSCP) under the direction of the Regional Activity Centre/ Regional Marine Pollution Emergency, Information and Training Centre-Wider Caribbean Region (RAC/REMPEITC-Caribe), which provided the consultants for the workshop.

MAJ Director General, Rear Admiral (ret’d) Peter Brady (pictured) told delegates: “This is a timely exercise coming on the heels of the tragedy in Trinidad and Tobago where a shipwreck caused a massive oil spill. The last report indicated that both Grenada and Venezuela could have been impacted too.

“All coastal states are vulnerable to marine spills and therefore adequate preparation and response actions must be in place to deal with the ensuing problems. States such as Jamaica, which depend on international shipping for our foreign trade, are particularly vulnerable to marine pollution from ships and other marine vessels,” he warned, although global statistics have shown a remarkable downward trend in marine spills due largely to the introduction of international rules by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and their adoption by Member States such as Jamaica.

The workshop discussed international maritime and environmental legislation and considered what actions are needed to prevent and mitigate oil spills and other pollution incidents. Admiral Brady highlighted the “critical” role the workshop played in enabling Jamaica to review its Oil Spill Contingency Plan, last officially updated in 2014.

“At the end of this three-day meeting, our National Oil Spill Contingency Plan can be seriously resuscitated and made ready for formal updating,” he said.

The attending agencies are expected to meet in April 2024, for further development of the National Oil Spill Contingency Plan.