Seven member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) have launched an initiative for marine environment improvement in the region by implementing major International Maritime Organization (IMO) marine environment protection treaties.

The countries are Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam.

IMO will implement the ‘Marine Environment Protection for Southeast Asia Seas (MEPSEAS) Project’ over the next four years until 2021.

IMO Major Projects deputy director Jose Matheickal said: “The MEPSEAS project is a clear demonstration of the continued commitment of the ASEAN countries to move towards a sustainable maritime transport system and to address significant marine environmental issues.”

Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad) will provide funding for the project, which primarily aims to strengthen the countries to implement various high-priority treaties such as International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL), Anti-Fouling Systems Convention, London dumping of wastes at sea convention and protocol, and the Ballast Water Management Convention.

“The MEPSEAS project is a clear demonstration of the continued commitment of the ASEAN countries to move towards a sustainable maritime transport system.”

The MEPSEAS project aims to encourage national legal and policy developments and related capacity building in port and flag state inspections to support enforcement of the selected IMO Conventions.

It also intends to promote specific port biological baseline survey training, as well as Green Shipping-Green Port-Green Shipyards (GGG) initiative of the Philippines and organise a regional maritime technology conference, among other activities.

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The project will be based on an earlier IMO-Norad foundation project that directly helped Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam, to make significant progress in implementing or acceding to IMO environmental treaties.

The countries involved in MEPSEAS have also agreed to develop a Project Work Plan, as well as regional coordination and information sharing arrangements to successfully implement the project.