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Coast Guard, Arctic partners head to Norway for work group meeting on oil spill response, search and rescue in the Arctic

U.S. Coast Guard members from the Office of Emergency Management attended the Arctic Council Working Group on Emergency Prevention Preparedness and Response (EPPR) meeting in Bodø, Norway, June 3-6, 2019, to continue work on matters related to marine environmental response (MER) and search and rescue (SAR) in the Arctic marine environment.

The EPPR Working Group, formed in 1991, is comprised of representatives from each of the Arctic Council nations: Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, the Russian Federation, Sweden and the U.S. The EPPR formed two sub-working groups: the Marine Environmental Response Experts Group, chaired by the Canadian Coast Guard, and the Search and Rescue Experts Group, chaired by the U.S. Coast Guard. Agreements for which EPPR works to support include the Agreement on Cooperation on Aeronautical and Maritime Search and Rescue in the Arctic (SAR Agreement, signed 2011), the Agreement on Cooperation on Marine Oil Pollution Preparedness and Response in the Arctic (MOSPA, signed 2013), and the Agreement on Enhancing International Arctic Scientific Cooperation (Scientific Agreement, signed 2017).  The EPPR utilizes a number of Expert Groups (MER and SAR) as well as project-specific groups (RAD) that support the EPPR’s mandates and initiatives.

EPPR holds meetings twice a year to discuss projects, proposals, and guidance from the Ministers and Senior Arctic Officials. In addition, the group uses the meetings as a venue for sharing best practices and lessons learned to enhance infrastructure and protocols needed to prevent, prepare, and respond to emergencies in the Arctic.

This was the EPPR’s first meeting in 2019. The Norwegian Coastal Administration, the Joint Rescue Coordination Center North Norway, and the Norwegian Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority hosted the meeting.

EPPR events brought a total of 85 participants to Bodø, twelve of which were from the United States. The EPPR plenary meeting was attended by 60 delegates, representing the Arctic States, one Permanent Participant from the Gwich’in Council, five Observer Countries (Italy, Japan, Singapore, South Korea, and Spain), four Observer Organizations (International Arctic Science Committee, International Federation of the Red Cross, University of the Arctic, and the UN Environment Program) and one invited guest from the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Two days of events preceded the EPPR plenary session, including:

Other items on the plenary agenda included: the initial planning discussions for the MOSPA 2021 live exercise; the completion of oil spill response training videos for prevention, preparedness, and response for small communities; risk assessment methods and metadata; and a new project on wildfires in the Arctic region.

The U.S. delegation included:

“EPPR’s world of work is far reaching and dives into many areas affecting the Arctic region, including marine environmental response and preparedness, search and rescue, radionuclide response, wildfire preparedness and response, and numerous others,” said Cmdr. Wes James. “I would like to personally thank our entire team of dedicated professionals from the United States for their leadership and dedication to these critically important issues.”

The next EPPR meeting will occur in Reykjavik, Iceland, December 2‐5, 2019.

This blog is not a replacement or substitute for the formal posting of regulations and updates or existing processes for receiving formal feedback of the same. Links provided on this blog will direct the reader to official source documents, such as the Federal Register, Homeport and the Code of Federal Regulations. These documents remain the official source for regulatory information published by the Coast Guard.

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