In existence since 1972, the OSPAR convention has worked to identify threats to the marine environment. It has organised programmes and measures to combat these threats and in so-doing has become a vital mechanism to help governments to cooperate in the region and further the protection of the North-East Atlantic.
The task of the OSPAR Commission is to ensure that the 16 Contracting Parties; Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and United Kingdom, together with the European Union, deliver their collective commitments to; biodiversity, resources and environmental quality of the ocean. OSPAR’s 40 year track record includes; comprehensive monitoring of substances, significant reduction in phosphorus and heavy metal inputs, radical reduction of discharges and regulation of offshore oil and gas activity.
Within the North East Atlantic region OSPAR regulates discharges of fluids into the sea, with a view to move toward less hazardous (ideally non-hazardous) substances being used. A Harmonised Offshore Chemical Notification Form (HOCNF) is completed by the fluid manufacturer and submitted for evaluation with the relevant authority. The HOCNF requires data to be provided on each component of a formulation. Specifically, this is compositional information and the following ecotoxicological information:
Measured by establishing the concentration of the substance which kills 50% of the population of four types of marine organism; algae, crustaceans, fish and sediment re-worker.
A measure of how a substance is broken down by biological activity within the marine environment within a given time period. In order to be considered as inherently biodegradable in the marine environment a substance must achieve >60% in 28 days according to OECD 306 test method.
A measure of the tendency of a substance to accumulate within the tissue of living organisms, and therefore be transferred up the food chain. A substance is classified by its preferential solubility in octanol compared to its solubility in water; expressed as log Pow where Pow is the Partition Coefficient Octanol/Water. The greater the number, the greater the water insolubility of the chemical. A substance with a log Pow <3 is not considered to bio accumulative under OSPAR, due to its relatively good water solubility. Molecules with a high molecular weight (>700) do not bio accumulate as they are too large to enter gill or cell membranes.
All of this data is then utilised by the relevant authorities to predict the potential risk to the North East Atlantic ecosystem.
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