EMSA Fishing for New Executive Director

The European Maritime Safety Agency opened its doors in 2003 after two major oil spills occurred about three years apart off the coasts of France and Spain.

Europe's chief agency for maritime oil spill preparedness and response, the European Maritime Safety Agency, is searching for a new executive director. EMSA, based in Lisbon, says applicants must be highly experienced citizens of a member state of the European Union or from a country from the European Economic Area, must be able to complete a five-year commitment before reaching the retirement age of 65, and must be ready to manage the agency's staff of 250 people and its annual budget ($76.8 million in 2011). Applications are due by Sept. 30.

The agency posted the opening on Sept. 1. The current executive director is Willem de Ruiter.

EMSA was created as a direct result of a major oil spill but opened its doors after a second, larger spill. The Dec. 12, 1999, sinking of the Maltese tanker Erika off the Brittany coast spilled some 19,800 tons of oil and polluted France's coastline, while the Bahamas-registered tanker Prestige ran into trouble off Spain's coast on Nov. 13, 2002, broke apart, and sank six days later while being towed out to sea, with at least 25,000 tons of oil spilled. The result was Spain's worst coastal oil spill to date.

EU maritime traffic and safety rules were considerably strengthened during this period. A regulation enacted in February 2002 established a timetable for phasing out single-hull oil tankers by 2015, and another regulation enacted in June 2002 created EMSA, which opened in 2003.

EMSA provides oil spill response vessels and equipment to member states as needed. It operates a EU-wide vessel tracking system and assists the European Commission with monitoring legislation that affects ship construction and maintenance, seafarer training, and vessel security.

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