Dr. Abas Basir, Director General representing SACEP at ‘BARRACUDA IX’, in Karachi, Pakistan on 4th December 2018

Presentation of SACEP Director General at BARRACUDA IX, Karachi,

4th December 2018

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentleman.

Good morning and welcome!

It is my great pleasure to be here today at the BARRACUDA IX Event in Karachi, Pakistan, representing South Asia Co-operative Environment Programme. On behalf of the South Asia Co-operative Environment Programme, please allow me to extend my gratitude to the Pakistan Maritime Security Agency for initiating this very important event and inviting SACEP to attend this event. I would like to also thank the Pakistan Marine Security Agency for its excellent arrangements and kind hospitality.

As the Director General of South Asia Co-operative Environment Programme, I would like to share some information about what we are doing in the South Asia Seas region in order to protect marine environment, prevent oil spill and manage it in an environmentally sound manner.

Let me start by presenting some words on SACEP and South Asia Seas Programme. Most of you are familiar with. However, I am taking this opportunity to provide you some updated information about these pioneer institutions.

South Asia Co-operative Environment Programme (SACEP) is an intergovernmental organization, established by the Governments of South Asia in 1982, when the environment was not treated as a priority but foreseeing the future needs of the human being. Its mission is to promote regional co-operation in South Asia in the field of environment, both natural and human in the context of sustainable development; and to support protection, management and enhancement of environment in the region. It is registered with the Secretariat of the United Nations as a Multilateral Organization in accordance with the Article 102 of the Charter of the United Nations. Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka are the SACEP member countries. Since the establishment of SACEP, the member states have closely worked together to address and tackle the environmental challenges in the region. SACEP Secretariat is based in Colombo, Sri Lanka.

SACEP is designated to be the Secretariat of the South Asian Seas Programme (SASP), which is one of the eighteen Regional Seas Programme of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). It was established, with the support from UNEP, in 1995.

Action Plan for SASP was signed and formally adopted by the five South Asian maritime countries namely Bangladesh, India, Maldives, Pakistan and Sri Lanka at a Meeting of Plenipotentiaries held in New Delhi, India on March 24th 1995, to protect and manage the marine environment and related coastal ecosystems of the region in an environmentally sound and sustainable manner.

SAS region does not have its own conventions but follow existing global environmental and maritime conventions and considers the Law of the Sea as its umbrella convention.

In addition, The SASP Action Plan acts as a regional framework for SASP’s activities. The Action Plan guides the member countries how to protect the marine environment of the region.

The Action Plan in addition to specifying the needs under the main components of Environmental Assessment; Environnemental Management; Environnemental Legislation & Institution; and Financial Arrangements, has identified the following as the SASP priority areas of work:

  • Integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM);
  • Oil‐spill contingency planning;
  • Human resource development; and
  • The environmental effects of land‐based activities.

 We are the catalyzer of actions at the national and regional levels through the assessment of the status and threats in coastal and marine environment. We co-ordinate and integrate these activities. We also support countries by undertaking, preparing, adopting and supporting implementation of regional strategies, programmes/ projects, and measures related to different aspects in order to protect the marine environment.

But to support the member countries, we are also harnessing the international opportunities through international partnerships. Partnerships entail pooling resources, human, fiscal and institutional, that enables doing more to our region.

This is why, we do have partnerships with many agencies, such as UN, IMO, FAO, ADB and other international organizations and institutions.

Resources of Marine Oil Spill

As you know, the South Asia lies close to the main shipping route from the Middle East to the Far East – about 25% of total world movement of crude oil by sea passing through this area.

General shipping traffic to and from the region is dominated by trade routes linking Karachi, Mumbai and Colombo with East African and South African Ports.

The region imports much of its oil for consumption through the routes, where substantial ecological and economical wealth is also found.

Accordingly, the South Asia Seas region is every time at the high risk of oil spill and pollution. Maritime oil spill risks arise from the following sources:

  • Non-tanker shipping
  • Carriage of refined products
  • Offshore exploration and production operations
  • Transfer of oil cargoes at sea
  • Routine shipping operations at ports such as bunkering
  • Ship recycling
  • Illegal discharges from the large volume of shipping within the region.

I would like to share with you a report about the incidences occurred in this region which resulted in biodiversity and economic loss. This data shows that during 2003, an incident happened in Pakistan territory where a significant amount of crude oil spilled. So far, we don’t know how much was its impacts on ecosystem.


Response to a major spill at sea would require the co-operation of the other States in the Region. So, we need to strengthen our co-ordination mechanisms in the region to avoid any- more occurrence in this region.

I am pleased to inform you that all South Asian Seas (SAS) region member countries have now signed the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for Co-operation on the Response to Oil and Chemical Pollution in the SAS Region and its annexed document named Regional Oil and Chemical Pollution Contingency Plan for South Asia as a mechanism for regional cooperation on the subject matter.

The general objective of the agreement is to organize a prompt and effective response to oil spills affecting or likely to affect the area of responsibility of one or more of the countries concerned and to facilitate their co-operation in the field of oil and chemical pollution preparedness and responses.

The MoU and the Regional Plan facilitate the member countries to co-operate in responding to major marine pollution incidents occurring in their Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), territorial seas and internal waters which are affecting or likely to affect the marine environment, the coast or related interests of one or more of the Parties.

MOU and the Regional Plan is into force now, as all five maritime states of South Asia have signed the MoU and the last signatory was Government of India who signed it on 12th May 2018.

Presently, SACEP is coordinating with the International Maritime Organization (IMO) to conduct some regional exercises for its further action and benefit of the region.

Mechanism for co-operation

The MoU and Regional Plan have introduced specific mechanism for co-operation which includes Contingency Planning; Reporting Marine Pollution Incidents; Assistance and Co-peration in Cases of Emergency; and Exchange of information.

Through the agreement, the member countries are required to designate a competent national authority or authorities with responsibility for oil pollution preparedness and responses. To be prepared, the designated authority is responsible to making a risk assessment regarding the traffic, offshore units, ports and oil handling facilities; preparing a minimum level of spill response equipment capable of making a first response proportionate to the risk involved; improving communication capabilities to notify without delay any pollution incidents; and initiating programmes for training and exercises. Parties are also requested to keep each other informed at all times on at least those parts of their respective national contingency plan which might be relevant in case of conducting joint response operations. According to the agreement, any Party requiring assistance to deal with a pollution incident may call for assistance from other Parties. Parties so requested shall use their best endeavors to grant this assistance.

Under this MoU, SACEP is expecting SAS Parties to cooperate in taking individually and jointly the necessary response measures according to the principles set out in the MoU and Regional Plan.

The Parties will use their best endeavors to maintain their ability to respond to pollution incidents threatening the marine environment of the South Asia Seas Area.

Ladies and gentlemen;

In this presentation we understood where the issues are and where they are going and the adverse impacts that they are having to the marine environment. We need to work together to tackle this problem.

It’s a big challenge in the SAS region and we need a capable team. This team is available here in the region

Our SAS members countries and the partners are also available with us.

We live in a take, make and waste society…. We need to change our consumption and production patterns to overcome the environmental challenges we face.

We can’t live without our ocean, we have to protect them, we have to keep them healthy. It is our duty and responsibility for the future.

Thank you……