Strengthening local capacities to respond to oil spills in Socotra Archipelago, Yemen
Following an oil spill that occurred from the stranded “Gulf Dove” tanker in early 2023, polluting the coast of Delisha in Socotra Archipelago, a World Heritage site in Yemen, emergency assistance has been provided by UNESCO World Heritage to carry out an impact and pollution risk assessment and to prepare a response.
Although the coast of Delisha had been mostly cleaned by local authorities and community organizations after the oil spill, a UNESCO field mission to Socotra Island revealed that the “Gulf Dove” tanker still contains some residual oil derivatives, posing a risk to the site. Contingency plans are therefore needed in order to minimize the impact of the tanker on the coastal and marine biodiversity of the island, in addition to strengthening to deal with man-made hazards, such as oil spills, in the future.
As part of the oil spill response, UNESCO organized a training workshop was held in Hadibo, Socotra, from 15 to 19 November 2023 in the presence of the Governor of the island. The training followed the methodology of the International Convention on Oil Pollution Preparedness, Response and Co-operation, of the International Maritime Organization (IMO). It provided participants with the necessary knowledge and tools to plan for and address oil spills effectively, while working with local communities. The training also provided an overview of the main roles and responsibilities for effective oil spill response, modalities for the creation of a contingency plan, aerial surveillance and at sea response techniques, net environmental benefit analysis, shoreline clean-up assessment techniques, response site safety, availability and use of counter pollution resources, and the importance of considering the impact of operations on the coastal and marine biodiversity.
The knowledge gathered during the field mission and the training will provide a baseline to formulate recommendations for local stakeholders to mitigate risks of future oil spills – such as preparing a comprehensive environment sensitivity assessment of the coastal areas – and develop a contingency plan to mitigate the possible effects of future accidental pollution.