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Norway supports sustainable oil spill prevention and response in West Africa

The Regional Conference on Marine Safety and Fisheries Protection was a result of collaboration between the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR).

Increasing regional cooperation in implementation of national contingency plans, the  use of chemical dispersants, satellite imagery and integrated communication services were some focal areas of discussion during this conference which held in Lagos on the 13th and 14th of July, 2017.

The Norwegian Ambassador to Nigeria H.E. Mr. Jens-Petter Kjemprud expressed optimism that the conference would provide an opportunity to deliberate on enhancing effective oil spill prevention and responses through mechanical means. Nigeria, he said, is blessed with rich marine resources and the country must continue to find ways through which activities regarding oil exploration would not hamper its biodiversity.

Dr. Lawrence Boms, the Country Head and Resident Representative UNITAR Nigeria Office, and the Area Security Coordinator of the UN system in Nigeria, highlighted marine safety and fisheries protection as being key to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals 2030. In his words, “effective management of natural resources, protecting biodiversity and addressing issues such as oil spills are critical to achieving sustainable development”.

The Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr. Dakuku Peterside strongly discouraged the indiscriminate use of dispersants to clean up oil spills, reminding participants that NIMASA as the concerned regulatory agency has a list of dispersants approved for use in line with International Maritime Organisation standards. He agreed that “care must be taken to ensure the preservation of the environment or else wealth becomes useless if our environment is damaged”.

Other speakers at the event included Mr. Emmanuel Audu, a representative of the Lagos State Commissioner for Agriculture (Hon. Oluwatoyin Suarau) and Dr. Gbola Akande, a Director at the Nigerian Institute of Oceanography and Marine Research.