This week around 70 representatives from the Arctic states will gather in Reykjavík for negotiations on a legally binding agreement on mutual assistance in the case of a marine oil spills in the Arctic. In light of increased maritime traffic and oil exploration in the region, the Foreign Ministers of the Arctic states decided at the last ministerial meeting of the Arctic Council in Nuuk in May 2011 to develop an international instrument on Arctic marine oil pollution preparedness and response.
The main benefit of the agreement, when completed, will involve the commitment on mutual assistance, increased cooperation, training and the sharing of information between respondents in the region. The Arctic states possess a wide range of specialized information and equipment to respond to oil contamination in distant, cold or icy waters. The agreement can therefore be an important part in increasing the cooperation between the Arctic countries and is of great interest for Iceland which is dependent up on healthy marine and coastal environment.