BAHRAIN plans to draw up a law that would outline compensation for violations committed in its territorial waters.
Incidents such as oil spills, leaks from ships and bad practices by fishermen could be tackled under the legislation, which would entitle the country for financial compensation.
This was discussed by Supreme Council for Environment (SCE) chief executive Dr Mohammed Mubarak bin Daina, who yesterday launched a five-year action plan as part of the US-Bahrain Joint Forum on Environmental Co-operation.
The action plan, which was part of an agreement signed between the US State Department and the SCE, will aim to improve air quality and reduce adverse health impacts of air pollution, while also protecting coastal environmental zones and preventing overexploitation of marine resources.
It will also hope to strengthen the capacity to protect endangered species and promote the growth of the environmental technology business sector.
“In Bahrain we are still (legally) struggling to calculate the compensation for damage,” Dr Bin Daina told the GDN.
“For example, if there is a violation in the sea like a leak from a ship, bad practices by fishermen or an oil spill from an international ship – legally we are not equipped to calculate the compensation, and the method is not known to us.
“The US Environment Protection Agency does this and it has an economical environmental department, which can calculate the compensation for such violations.
“So this is something we can learn from them.”
Dr Bin Daina was speaking to the GDN on the sidelines of the launch at Bahrain National Museum.
It followed a one-day meeting on the joint forum, which was attended by a US delegation comprising members from the US Forest Department and the Department of Interior. The delegation was headed by US States Trade Representative and Environment and Natural Resources director Jennifer Prescott.
Tackling dust and sand storms, which contribute heavily to air pollution in the region, is also among the key projects of the joint forum.
“We discussed our air quality issue, which is not a local issue, but regional,” explained Dr Bin Daina.
“Sand and dust storms that are on the rise in the region affect our air quality heavily.
“The World Health Organisation says the region is high on this concern and we must accept the fact that our climate is different from that of the West.”
Dr Bin Daina said the action plan was ready to be executed and the detailed proposals would be ready within a month.
“Other projects also include developing a regional strategy for waste recycling, marine wealth and quality of water in the Gulf seas,” he added.
Ms Prescott, meanwhile, said there was potential for enhanced regional co-operation in environmental issues, while US Ambassador Justin Siberell, who was also present at the launch, underlined the scope of bilateral co-operation on shared challenges.
“Dealing with waste and industrial growth are among the areas where we can co-operate,” he said.
“We are very appreciative of the efforts that are being made in Bahrain like the reclaim centre which is a lot of forward thinking and trying to manage environmental protection and the dynamic economic growth.”
The BD150,000 National Reclaim Centre – the first of its kind in the GCC – opened last week as part of Bahrain’s strategy to phase out ozone-depleting substances.
Harmful chemicals worth more than $7 million can be recycled every year at a newly-opened centre, the GDN reported.