Marine pollution, in general, and accidental marine pollution, in particular, are issues of major concern from the standpoint of their impacts on the health of the marine environment and their socio-economic uses. These issues, originated by shipping, but also by offshore and coastal installations (e.g. oil platforms, industrial facilities, etc.), have played an important pressure upon the need for a better protection of the world's marine ecosystems through the implementation of new or improved prevention mechanisms and response actions, based on sound scientific principles. Taking into account that these problems are also very often of transboundary nature, we envision to create a platform where governmental policy developers and scientists from European coastal countries meet and discuss all aspects of accidental marine pollution research and implement measures needed. This follows the international co-operation strategy defined within the ERA initiative, enhancing European competitiveness and providing the basis for the best practices on prevention, avoidance and remediation of accidental marine pollution.
This ERA-NET proposal will be an important milestone to improve national/regional RTD strategic planning. Such a close interaction is of primary importance to achieve trust between the different stakeholders, from industry to environmental NGOs, and a real and lasting collaboration including representatives of all member states at all levels, who are together deeply aware of the national priorities and issues at stake. The existence of AMPERA should increase the public awareness of European environmental policy issues. AMPERA will also create the critical mass in Europe, enhancing the effective and efficient use of existing European RTD capacities on accidental marine pollution, maximising the output from existing efforts, particularly for preventing and better responding to accidental contingencies.
Objectives of the ERA-NET on Accidental Marine Pollution (AMPERA) include:
Setting priorities in trans-disciplinary accidental marine pollution research, including policy and socio-economic aspects, providing incentives for initiating new or strategic areas of innovative research.
Improved linking of accidental marine contamination research with prevention and mitigation activities, to underpin and emphasise the role of sound knowledge in decision making.
Improving co-ordination of national/regional research programmes on accidental marine pollution. For that purpose a complete inventory will be made of the state of the art of the existing national programmes, running projects and respective RTD priorities in the field.
Improved validation of RTD programmes by documentation of national implementation and management approaches, and design strategies to overcome barriers that hinder trans-national co-operation aimed at opening up of national/regional programmes.
Launching long-term RTD strategies, by identifying synergies and complementarities that will act as nuclei for sustainable co-operations between partners and design strategic activities.
Dissemination of knowledge at different levels, underscoring the science-public interface and the importance of adopting this approach for society generally.
Resultant benefits are planned to be:
Improved co-operation and co-ordination of Member State initiatives aimed at the creation of a European Research Area on accidental marine pollution.
A better integration of science and technology into spill response mechanisms and decision-making systems, enabling the adoption of best operational practices.
Increased opportunities for new and emerging accidental marine science and technology developments.
Effective and efficient use of existing European RTD capacities for solving accidental contingencies.
Added scientific value and cost efficiency to individual Member State programmes and optimisation of expertise on accidental marine pollution.
Co-ordinated support for EU policies with respect to the implementation of prevention and response instruments and enhancing of European competitiveness.
The network will set up mutually agreed European research priorities and standards for the administration, evaluation and funding of trans-national proposals and will surmount the fragmentation of national programmes by establishing durable European research programmes to be jointly managed.