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Years-long efforts for reducing the negative consequences of potential accidents in the Adriatic Sea yield tangible results

Years-long efforts for reducing the negative consequences of potential accidents in the Adriatic Sea yield tangible results

A press conference was held on 16 February 2022 to highlight the results of years-long efforts and action within the framework of the EU Strategy for the Adriatic and Ionian Region (EUSAIR) to prevent and mitigate the consequences of accidents or potential pollution in the Adriatic Sea against the backdrop of ever-increasing vessel traffic. The conference featured dr. Mitja Bricelj from the Ministry of the Environment and Spatial Planning and mag. Iztok Škerlič from the Public Institute for Entrepreneurship Izola – Municipality of Izola, who drew particular attention to ASOSCoP, transnational contingency plan in the event of accidents at sea (one of the four flagship macro-regional projects of EUSAIR Environmental Quality Pillar). The speakers highlighted the coherence of the ASOSCoP project with the recently approved NAMIRS project - North Adriatic Maritime Incident Response System, which is the first concrete action that addressess these strategic challenges at the macro-regional level. According to Ms Anna Marconato from the Central European Initiative – Executive Secretariat in Trieste which acts as project coordinator, the NAMIRS projects is to officially kick off in March. From the outset, the project has been strongly supported by the Slovenian Ministry of the Environment and Spatial Planning, Urban Municipality of Izola and EUSAIR Facility Point TSG 3 Project Partner Izola. It has received funding from DG ECHO under the Union Civil Protection Mechanism.

Dr. Mitja Bricelj, Pillar Coordinator, outlined the activities of the Thematic Steering Group on Environmental Quality as well as the priorities which served as the basis for the design of the four flagship projects. The projects address sustainable growth through the implementation of various protocols, protection and monitoring of marine protected species and ecosystems and design of a plan for an effective response to prevention and mitigation of the consequences of an accident or potential pollution in the Adriatic Sea. The seas within the Adriatic-Ionian Region, especially the Adriatic Sea, boast a tremendous ecological value, but a number of factors, including pollution, overfishing and spills of hazardous substances pose a serious threat to their health. In this context, dr Bricelj stressed that cooperation between all nine EUSAIR participating countries was excellent and that it yielded concrete results. Thus, years-long efforts for common goals relating to environmental protection in the region culminated in the NAMIRS project which received EU funding. The project is an epitome of good cooperation between different countries in the North Adriatic which should be transferred to other parts of the Adriatic-Ionian Region.

Mag. Iztok Škerlič from from the Public Institute for Entrepreneurship Izola – Municipality of Izola, which acts as Facility Point Project Partner and work package leader in the area of environmental quality shed light on the work and activities of Facility Point. Mr Škerlič explained that in the past five years, 170 meetings and a further 10 financial dialogues were held with entities providing the relevant EU funding. The meetings resulted in the design of 11 macro-regional projects. He particularly focused on the flagship project ASOSCoP, a transnational contingency plan in the event of an accident at sea (oil spill or similar incident). This complex plan foresees a coordinated action of EUSAIR participating countries in the event of an incident and includes various analyses, emergency response simulations, a series of trainings for stakeholders and purchase of the relevant equipment. Both speakers were pleased to highlight the EU support for the NAMIRS project, which paves the way towards implementing this flagship project in the North Adriatic Sea. The project is the culmination of years-long efforts of the Public Institute for Entrepreneurship Izola, the Municipality of Izola and all Facility Point Project Partners who have worked together towards implementing the common goals in the area of environmental quality – one of the pillars of EUSAIR which is financed by the ADRION Programme.

Anna Marconato, head of the NAMIRS project, highlighted that the project encapsulates the political mission and priorities of the Central European Initiative (CEI) which puts environmental protection at the forefront of sustainable growth agenda of the 17 members states of Central European Initiative. Ms Marconato welcomed the project saying it was the first step to an even more coordinated cooperation with EUSAIR structures, especially with the Environmental Quality Pillar, and looked forward to further synergies and joint activities.

Ms Marconato from the Central European Initiative invited all participants in the press conference to the NAMIRS Kick Off Conference which would take place in March in Trieste to mark the start of the project. The project, which is planned to be implemented by February 2024, aims to prevent the adverse effects of accidents in the North Adriatic Sea through cross-border cooperation. The project is expected to result in better preparedness and a more coordinated response at a supranational level through integration of knowledge, tools and resources available, its ultimate goal being the update of the Subregional contingency plan for prevention of, preparedness for and response to major marine pollution incidents in the Adriatic Sea. The beneficiaries of the EUR 950,000 project include the General Command of Port Authorities – Coast Guard from the Republic of Italy, Ministry of Maritime Affairs, Transport and Infrastructure of the Republic of Croatia, Administration of the Republic of Slovenia for Civil Protection and Disaster Relief, Adriatic Training and Research Centre for Accidental Marine Pollution Preparedness and Response from Croatia, Faculty of Maritime Studies and Transport of University of Ljubljana and National Institute of Oceanography and Applied Geophysics from Italy.


EUSAIR or EU Strategy for the Adriatic and Ionian Region is a macro-regional strategy adopted by the European Commission in 2014. It was jointly developed by the European Commission and the countries in the region who agreed to work together to address common challenges and promote economic, social and territorial cohesion in the region. EUSAIR covers 10 countries: Croatia, Greece, Italy and Slovenia (EU member states) and Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, North Macedonia, San Marino and Serbia (non-EU countries). The countries work together in the four thematic areas/pillars, i.e. blue growth, connecting the region, environmental quality and sustainable tourism.

Slovenia, together with Bosnia and Herzegovina, coordinates Pillar 3 or Environmental Quality Pillar, with Municipality of Izola, Slovenian Facility Point project partner, performing the tasks of secretariat for the pillar. Stakeholders under the Pillar work together to improve the quality of life along the shared sea, conserve biodiversity and better manage river basins through concrete arrangements and implementation of regimes that are based on consideration of coastal and marine ecosystem services in the Adriatic-Ionian Region. For more information, please visit https://www.adriatic-ionian.eu/about-eusair/pillars/green-pillar/.

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