State action at sea: France, Italy and Monaco collaborate in the fight against marine pollution

Oct 9, 2022

For two days, the maritime prefecture of the Mediterranean collaborated, together with the Monegasque authorities and services, in the “RAMOGEPOL U Portu 2022” organized by the Italian Ministry for Ecological Transition off the coast of Imperia.

This exercise, which took place from October 4 to 6 in Italian territorial waters, is part of the RAMOGE tripartite agreement prevention and fight against marine pollution. An operational control plan, called “RAMOGEPOL”, is derived from this agreement. It was signed in 1993 by the three countries. Its area of ​​application extends from the mouth of the Grand Rhône in the west to the fire of Capo d’Anzio to the east, and includes Sardinia and Corsica.

The objective of this plan is to pool pollution control resources and harmonize operational procedures in the Mediterranean basin. In order to test its effectiveness, simulation exercises to combat accidental pollution are regularly organised. These “life-size” exercises make it possible to assess the responsiveness of the means implemented and to assess the interaction between the organizations of the three countries. These experiences make it possible to improve the effectiveness of this multilateral coordination.

The scenario for this year’s exercise involved a tanker carrying caustic soda, in transit through Italian territorial waters off the Ligurian coast. Following an explosion on board, a breach in the hull was observed, damaging a compartment containing fuel oil and another containing caustic soda transported in liquid state. This explosion caused no injuries but generated a spill at sea of ​​large quantities of fuel oil (estimated at 100 m3) and caustic soda (estimated at 300 m3).

Many nautical and aerial resources were involved in this exercise, which included a combat phase at sea and then a part on land. As part of this collaboration, the maritime prefecture of the Mediterranean has deployed the chartered support and assistance vessel (BSAA) Jasonone of whose main missions is the fight against maritime pollution, a Falcon 50 maritime surveillance aircraft from the French Navy and the anti-pollution cell of the Toulon naval base, which also specializes in this field.

In France, the land phase also involved the municipalities of Menton and Roquebrune-Cap Martin, which took advantage of this exercise to activate their municipal safeguard plans and mechanize procedures for securing ports and protecting the coastline.

On the sidelines of the exercise, a meeting of representatives of the public prosecutor’s offices of the three States Parties was organised. This first meeting of this type since the creation of the RAMOGE agreement focused on the judicial response provided in the event of voluntary pollution detection. It allowed very rich exchanges on Italian, Monegasque and French repressive judicial procedures.

This exercise will thus have enabled the mobilization of the various means and the coordination of all the actors, administrations and authorities involved. The next training will take place in 2023, this time on the initiative of France, which will be the organizer.

This reinforced tripartite cooperation proved its effectiveness in real situations in 2018, during the collision between theUlysses and the Virginia off Cap Corse for which the RAMOGE agreement had been activated.

State action at sea: France, Italy and Monaco collaborate in the fight against marine pollution