09/04/2015 PERSGA Sixteenth Ministerial Council

The 16th Ministerial Council convened in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, on the 9th April 2015 preceded by a meeting of the Executive Committee of PERSGA’s Focal Points on the 7th of the month. The meeting was attended by the ministers of the environment and representatives from six PERSGA Member States namely: Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Jordan, Djibouti and Yemen. The meeting was hosted by the Arab Republic of Egypt.During the meeting the PERSGA countries paid tribute to the tangible results of the on-ground project carried out by PERSGA in collaboration with the Ministry of Housing, Urban Planning and the Environment of Djibouti.
This project addresses efforts for adaptation to the impacts of climate change in coastal areas. A request was made to the General Secretariat of PERSGA to implement similar projects in other Member States.The Ministerial Council welcomed the participation of PERSGA as an observer at the 19th Conference of the Parties on Climate Change (COP 19) held in Warsaw, the organizing of a joint side-event in cooperation with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and the high level of coordination between the Member States in their regional efforts for the conservation of the marine environment.
The Council requested the Secretariat of PERSGA to continue its efforts in this area at upcoming conferences within the limits of available resources and by soliciting international partnerships.With regard to ecosystems, living marine resources, marine biodiversity and marine protected areas the Council welcomed the arrival of PERSGA as an observer at the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) with participation at the Second Conference of the Parties (CBD 12), and urged PERSGA to join other relevant international conventions especially the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), the International Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species (CMS), and the International Convention on Wetlands (RAMSAR), and to work towards integration of efforts towards compliance with these international conventions.The Council requested the Member States to expand the establishment of marine protected areas and emphasized the importance of coordination and cooperation with PERSGA to strengthen the networks of protected areas in the region, and to identify environmentally important areas and to give them priority in conservation programs, noting in particular all highly important breeding areas for fisheries and threatened species.
The Council pointed out the importance of adopting activities based on the ecosystem approach for coastal and marine resource management, including the implementation of the principles of the ecosystem approach in any related exploitation of these resources and the use of the coastal and marine environment for economic activities. It urged the Secretariat of PERSGA to continue to follow up on the implementation of the studies and research carried out in collaboration with the countries’ Focal Points for the evaluation and review of legislation, policies and management plans relating to the exploitation and protection of fishery resources and the marine environment.
The Council emphasized the importance of taking advantage of recommendations from these studies, incorporating the principles of the ecosystem approach during national efforts to draw up legislation and policies for the management of coastal and marine resources in the countries of the region.The Council urged Member States to apply the guidance on compensation which was prepared by PERSGA and the utilization of the compensation proceeds in the field of rehabilitation of affected ecosystems.With regard to environmental monitoring and the risk of pollution from land-based activities, the Council paid tribute to the establishment of the ongoing environmental monitoring mechanism in the Gulf of Aqaba, set up by PERSGA as an on-ground project in collaboration with the Aqaba Special Economic Zone Authority (ASEZA). The Council requested the implementation of similar projects in the future for the expansion of continuous monitoring of the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden, in cooperation with the Member States.
;It urged PERSGA to communicate with international organizations, specialized agencies and national stakeholders (through the national Focal Points) to discuss the possibility of implementing joint projects to build capacity in the areas of monitoring for radioactive pollution, toxic substances and heavy metals in the marine environment.The Council recommended that the General Secretariat of PERSGA continue their good work in the implementation of the regional strategy for the reduction of emissions of persistent organic pollutants carried out in partnership with the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO). This strategy reduces emissions of persistent organic pollutants using the best available technology and environmental practices. The Council renewed its request to the Member States to provide PERSGA, in a continuous and timely manner, with the results of the sea water quality monitoring data in order to feed the Regional Monitoring Database in Jeddah.
The Council paid special tribute to the on-ground project carried out by PERSGA in collaboration with the EEAA in the Arab Republic of Egypt to monitor persistent organic and non-organic pollutants in marine organisms and sediments. It commissioned the Secretariat of PERSGA to work on capacity building in the monitoring of pollutants in living marine resources within the coastal and marine environment of all the member countries of the region.
The Council thanked the Emergency Mutual Aid Center in Hurghada (EMARSGA) for its efforts in the development and enhancement of the mission and role of the Center.
The Council welcomed recent cooperation with the International Maritime Organization (IMO) to strengthen regional capacity to prepare and respond to incidents of marine pollution by oil and other harmful substances. The ongoing training carried out by EMARSGA and the preparation of guidelines and manuals for combating oil pollution were acknowledged.
The Council called for continued support of national capacities for planning, preparedness and emergency response to marine pollution and urged the Member States to ratify the Protocol for the Transfer of Individuals and Equipment in the Case of Marine Emergency. This is needed to enable the Center to carry out Commander Exercises to address incidents of marine pollution at the second and third tier levels, and to ensure preparedness to deal with emergencies that require greater speed of coordination and mobilization of capacities at the regional level.
The Council called on the Secretariat of PERSGA to conduct a feasibility study on the utilization of satellite images to track oil pollution as in the Arabian Gulf, and demanded the organization of a workshop to study the pros and cons of accession to Annex VI of MARPOL and the Convention on Ballast Water and Sediments. The Council urged Member States to join these conventions and demanded that the states work on the preparation of national strategies for the management of ballast water in accordance with the provisions in this international convention.To raise public awareness and promote environmental education, the Council requested the Secretariat of PERSGA to produce a new issue of the E-educational bag "Because I care" and use it for the implementation of a regional program for sustainable environmental education in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden. The council approved the decision of the juries for the Environmental Excellence Award 2013-2014 and its award to Hassan Kamel Secondary School in Hurghada for their efforts in raising environmental awareness for the conservation of the marine environment. The Council requested the General Secretariat to organize a new award for the year 2015-2016. 

The Regional Organization for the Conservation of the Environment in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden