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  • Terms of Reference for the NOWPAP MERRAC Focal Points Meeting
  • Background
  • In order to implement the objectives related to the marine pollution preparedness and response {Objective 4, task (e): and Objective 5, task (c) and (d)} of the Action Plan for the Protection, Management and Development of the Marine and Coastal Environment of the Northwest Pacific Region (NOWPAP) adopted at the First Intergovernmental Meeting on NOWPAP (IGM) in September 1994, Seoul, Republic of Korea, a priority was given to development of effective measures for regional cooperation in marine pollution preparedness and response (NOWPAP/4) by the same Intergovernmental Meeting. Based on the recommendation of the overnment-Designated Oil Pollution Preparedness and Response Cooperation (OPRC) Experts Meeting on Sub-Regional Cooperation to Enhance National Capabilities in Marine Pollution Emergency Preparedness and Response (November 1995, Bangkok, Thailand), the Second IGM approved, in the form of the Programme Document, the establishment of a forum on marine pollution preparedness and response. The Marine Environmental Emergency Preparedness and Response Regional Activity Centre (MERRAC) was established on 28 July 2000 based on the Resolution 2 of the Fourth IGM (April 1999, Beijing, People’s Republic of China), and the following signature of a Memorandum of Understanding among United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), International Maritime Organization (IMO) (MOERI/KORDI) in Daejeon, Republic of Korea. and Maritime & Ocean Engineering Research Institute/Korea Ocean Research & Development Institute MERRAC was designated to coordinate and facilitate marine pollution preparedness and response related activities with technical assistance from UNEP, IMO and other international and regional organizations.

    The Seventh IGM (20-22 March 2002, Vladivostok, Russian Federation) approved the recommendation of the Fourth Meeting of NOWPAP Forum on Marine Pollution Preparedness and Response (14-18 May 2001, Qingdao, People’s Republic of China) that a network of National Focal Points for MERRAC has to be established by re-arranging the title and organization of the existing forum.

    Upon decision by the Fourth Forum Meeting ( Qingdao, 15-18 May 2001), the name of the Forum was changed into “NOWPAP MERRAC Focal Points Meeting” and the meeting would be organized periodically at MERRAC each year in May.

    The Sixth NOWPAP MERRAC Focal Points Meeting (MERRAC, Daejeon, 1-4 September 2003) approved the Terms of Reference for MERRAC Focal Points Meeting (UNEP/NOWPAP/MERRAC/FPM 6/11).

    The 10 th NOWPAP IGM ( Toyama, 24-26 November 2005) approved the new directions for the NOWPAP RACs including the new activities for MERRAC such as chemical preparedness and response, marine-based pollution (MARPOL and OPRC, with IMO) and marine litter (with other RACs).


  • Objectives
  • The NOWPAP MERRAC Focal Points Meeting is a NOWPAP arrangement to promote development of effective measures for regional cooperation in marine pollution prevention and response whereby representatives of the NOWPAP Members meet in accordance with article 4 (Participation) below.
  • The general objectives of the MERRAC Focal Points Meeting are to promote mutual cooperation and to exchange information on marine pollution prevention and response in the NOWPAP region, in order to prevent and minimize the damage to the environment by marine pollutions.


  • Functions
  • Bearing in mind that the Intergovernmental Meeting is the governing body for the Northwest Pacific Action Plan, the functions of the MERRAC Focal Points Meeting are to:

  • (a)
  • identify cooperative actions in the NOWPAP region on marine pollution prevention and response;
  • (b)
  • carry out the cooperative actions in the NOWPAP region for the purpose of exchange of information on marine pollution prevention and response;
  • (c)
  • promote and harmonize regional cooperation in the NOWPAP region on marine pollution prevention and response;
  • (d)
  • promote the strengthening of coordinating mechanisms and of capabilities to address marine pollution prevention and response on the national and regional levels;
  • (e)
  • assist in identifying gaps in scientific knowledge and promote information exchange and technical cooperation, including education, training and technology transfer in the field of marine pollution prevention and response;
  • (f)
  • review periodically the effectiveness of ongoing cooperative activities, and advise on necessary follow-up activities in the field of marine pollution prevention and response;
  • (g)
  • report on marine pollution contingency cases and measures to address them to improve the current arrangements for regional marine pollution prevention and response;
  • (h)
  • disseminate information on marine pollution prevention and response in the wide range of the public concerned; and
  • (i)
  • perform other functions pursuant of the objective and goals of the NOWPAP, in the field of marine pollution prevention and response.


  • Participation
  • NOWPAP Members will be invited to participate in the MERRAC Focal Points Meeting. The representative of each NOWPAP Member, the national Focal Point, should represent the relevant national authority which has the responsibility and authority at the national level regarding the marine pollution prevention and response. Each representative may be accompanied by advisors as appropriate. It is expected that NOWPAP Members would ensure that their delegations reflect the full range of national expertise and interests.
  • The representatives of NOWPAP Regional Activity Centres (RACs) may also participate in the Meeting as observers.
  • The representatives of international organizations, Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), local authorities and representatives of the civil society willing to contribute to the work of these meetings may be invited as observers.
  • The list of invited observers will be circulated by the Director of MERRAC to the MERRAC Focal Points prior to the meeting.
  • Certain meeting discussions may be limited only to NOWPAP Member’s official representatives. Observers may be requested to be absent from these discussions. . Decisions on this issue will be made by the NOWPAP Member’s official representatives. The continued participation of NGO’s in the work of the meetings will be reviewed periodically, taking into account the contribution of such observers to the work of the MERRAC Focal Points Meeting.


  • Sessions
  • The MERRAC Focal Points Meeting should be held once a year. Each session will discuss the timing of the subsequent session.
  • At each session, the meeting will elect, from the official representatives of the NOWPAP Members, a Chairperson and a Rapporteur.
  • Election of officers of the meeting will be decided by consensus.


  • Tasks
  • The MERRAC Focal Points Meeting will carry out the following tasks:
  • Advice and recommendation to the Intergovernmental Meeting on the workplan and budget of MERRAC through its Director;
  • Periodical review and approval on the implementation of the workplan and budget as adopted by the Intergovernmental Meeting;
  • Review of periodic reports prepared by MERRAC;
  • Preparation of a list of research and development priorities , regarding the marine pollution prevention and response;
  • Collection, evaluation and dissemination to the contact institutions of existing data on marine pollution prevention and response;
  • Preparation of a report on environmental, technical, organization and logistical limitations to marine pollution prevention and response;
  • Collection of information on equipment, experts, exercises, and training;
  • Exchange of existing environmental data such as national ESI maps;
  • Development, maintenance and update of a regional contingency plan and its related data bases;
  • Development of a draft Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), as appropriate; and its maintenance;
  • Identification and cost estimate of follow-up activities; and
  • Implementation of relevant activities decided upon by the NOWPAP Intergovernmental Meeting.


  • Intersessional work
  • In principle, all the intersessional work will be carried out by correspondence among the participants without financial provision.
  • When specific funds are provided by the NOWPAP Trust Fund and/or other sources of funding, the tasks will be carried out with funds for intersessional work.


  • Expert Meetings
  • Subject to availability of funds, the meeting may establish expert meetings comprised of NOWPAP Members and other agreed participants to undertake specific advisory functions relating to scientific and technical issues of the tasks.


  • Secretariat
  • The MERRAC Focal Points Meeting and the expert meeting, if established, will be served by a secretariat provided jointly (as appropriate) by the MERRAC, the NOWPAP Regional Coordinating Unit (RCU), UNEP and IMO.


  • Decisions
  • The meeting will achieve decisions by consensus among the NOWPAP Members. If consensus cannot be reached on administrative and procedural matters, voting may be taken. Each NOWPAP Member will have one vote. Such decision will be taken by a majority of those NOWPAP Members present and voting.


  • Procedure
  • The MERRAC Focal Points Meeting and its expert meeting, if established, shall adopt, mutates mutandis, the rules of procedures of the UNEP Governing Council.
  • The MERRAC Focal Points Meeting shall advise, when necessary, to the Intergovernmental Meeting on amendment to the present Terms of Reference of MERRAC Focal Points Meeting.


  • Agenda
  • Focal Points may request the secretariat to include specific items in the provisional agenda prior to its distribution.


  • Budget and Expenses
  • The budget for the MERRAC Focal Points Meeting and MERRAC subsequent activities is supported by the NOWPAP Trust Fund. Other external funds should also be sought in accordance with the development of MERRAC activities.
  • The Director of MERRAC will report to Focal Points Meeting on expenditures of the NOWPAP Trust Fund related to the MERRAC activities. After approval of such report by the Focal Points Meeting, the Director of MERRAC will report on MERRAC expenditures to the Intergovernmental Meeting.


  • Report
  • The MERRAC Focal Points Meeting and the expert meeting, if established, will consider and adopt a report at each of their sessions. The reports will be circulated to all participants of the meeting. The Director of MERRAC will present the reports to the Intergovernmental Meeting.


  • Language
  • The working language of the MERRAC Focal Points Meeting and the expert meeting, if established, will be English. The host country of each of the meeting sessions may interpret the English session into the language of the host country.

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