Following major oil spills and chemical spill incidents and in order to preserve the sensitive coastal ecosystems and the economies dependent on these resources, the States and Territories of the Wider Caribbean Region requested in the early nineties, that the International Maritime Organization (IMO) support and establish a regional centre to achieve the goal of oil spill preparedness and to promote co-operation, training and exercises. This request was reiterated during the IMO/IPIECA Conference, held in Curacao, in March 1994. It was also requested to consolidate the then ten-year existence of the IMO Consultant on oil pollution preparedness based in Puerto Rico.
The Seventh Intergovernmental Meeting of the Action Plan and the Fourth Meeting of the Contracting Parties of the Cartagena Convention and Protocols, in December 1994, took this decision, based on the initiative and proposal of the Netherlands Antilles, the Netherlands and the United States (USCG). The Contracting Parties accepted, on a provisional basis, the establishment of the Regional Marine Pollution Emergency Information and Training Center (REMPEITC-Caribe) in Curacao and requested IMO and UNEP to consider means to sustain the operation of the Centre and to develop the necessary institutional arrangements.
Through this collaborative effort between the governments of the Wider Caribbean Region, the UNEP, and IMO, RAC/REMPEITC-Caribe was established on June 15th 1995, within the framework of the Caribbean Environmental Programme (UNEP-CAR/RCU), and with the support of the governments of the Netherlands Antilles, the Netherlands and the United States of America.
The Centre is hosted by the Government of Curaçao and staffed with subject matter experts voluntarily seconded by states signatory to the Cartagena Convention of 1983. Current secondments are from Curaçao, the United States (U.S. Coast Guard) and France (with the support of the oil company, Total S.A.). Past secondments to the Center have been appointed by the Governments of the Netherlands and Venezuela (with the support of Refineria Isla Curacao B.V).
Though its origins are deeply rooted in the OPRC Convention and in strengthening regional oil spill preparedness, co-operation and response capacity, the mission of RAC/REMPEITC-Caribe has greatly expanded to assist countries to implement all IMO marine pollution prevention conventions. With over 20 years of support from the IMO, UNEP, and Curacao, the Centre has organized over 180 activities attended by more than 4500 participants throughout the Caribbean. These activities have contributed significantly to governments’ decisions to ratify and implement the international conventions created to protect the environment from pollution that might otherwise be caused by ships.