Ships entering the territorial waters of GCC states will have to strictly comply with international pollution standards from next month. The new rule comes in the wake of the International Maritime Organisation's (IMO) decision to list Qatar, Bahrain, Iran, Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in the "special area" of IMO.
The IMO's decision to list the Gulf area in the special category is in line with the MARPOL Convention (International convention covering prevention of pollution from ships 1973\78) that envisaged combating marine pollution in coastal waters.
A meeting of GCC environment ministers held here yesterday called on all member countries to ensure that they strictly adhere to the international and regional guidelines to keep their territorial waters pollution-free.
The GCC ministers' meeting ratified the more than 40 Green Initiatives identified at the Doha meeting in 2007.
Delivering the opening address, Qatar's Minister of Environment, H E Abdullah bin Mubarak bin Aaboud Al Midhadhi, said the emerging ecological challenges could not be combated by individual countries in the region. He stressed the need for the member countries to strictly follow national and international guidelines for protecting the environment.
GCC Secretary General H E Abdulrahman bin Hamad Al Attiyah, said each member in the GCC was a signatory to the MARPOL convention and some of them had already honoured their commitments regarding the Convention. He urged the members to honour other regulations related to a series of joint environmental action programmes, including those on radiation and nuclear risks.
The ministers also discussed a series of regional and international conventions on the environment, including the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the Convention on preservation of wildlife and natural habitats in the region, Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer and the Montreal Protocol.
Regarding the GCC Green Initiatives, the meeting decided to implement the nine 'high priority' projects in a year. The next set of 12 projects will be implemented the following year.
The GCC environment ministers will hold their next meeting in Oman.
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