Background

Currently, there is a documented lack of reliable long-term marine data resources to support the development of strategies and policies related to sustainable use of the marine environment around Small Island Developing States in the Caribbean and adjacent countries in Latin America. The region is facing many coastal hazards including tsunamis, large amounts of sargassum seaweed beaching on coastlines and frequent unreported oil spills.

In recent years, the Caribbean region has faced challenges from oil spills. Large-scale oil spill incidents have included an April 2017 spill at Pointe-à-Pierre, Trinidad and Tobago and a July 2017 oil spill in Kingston Harbor, Jamaica. Illegal dumping of oil-contaminated waste by ships operating in the region is also a common occurrence. 

A kick off workshop of 40 experts from 15 countries was held in May of 2018 to discuss sargassum and oil spill monitoring in the Caribbean and Adjacent regions. The participants included representatives from various United Nations entities, academia, governments, private companies and international initiatives. 

Project Aim

Develop an oil spill information system to help countries in the wider Caribbean monitor and respond to oil spills.

Activities 

Wider Caribbean Oil Spill Information System Workshop

The Wider Caribbean Oil Spill Information System Workshop was held from June 24 – 25, 2020 online. The goal of the workshop was to identify user needs, current information and capabilities, and next steps in developing an oil spill information system. The workshop was hosted by GEO Blue Planet in collaboration with AmeriGEO, IOCARIBE IOC UNESCO, NOAA Satellite Analysis Branch, and RAC-REIMPETC. More information can be found on the event page here

Satellite Detection of Oil Spills 

Resources are being sought to development of a satellite based oil spill monitoring program for oil spills in the wider Caribbean. This program would provide satellite-based analyses for oil spill incidences and issue reports on anomalous features in satellite imagery that are suspected to be caused by an accidental or intentional oil discharge. 

Networking  

Networking is ongoing to connect the Regional Marine Pollution Emergency, Information and Training Centre – Caribe (REMPEITC) with relevant experts related to oil spill monitoring and forecasting and support their efforts to develop a GIS-based Environmental Hazard Mapping System.