The Agreement of Cooperation Between the United States of American and the United Mexican States Regarding Pollution of the Marine Environment by Discharges of Hydrocarbons and Other Hazardous Substances signed in February 2000 by the U.S. Coast Guard and the Secretaria de Marina-Armada de Mexico, established the beginning of a successful bilateral cooperation between both countries for the preparation and response to pollution incidents that could affect the coastal waters of both countries. The agreement calls for joint pollution response exercises to be conducted to exercise the bilateral coordination and joint response system.

In May 2004, the Shell Exploration and Production Company acted as the Responsible Party in such a joint exercise, denominated MEXUS GULF 2004. The exercise was conducted in Matamoros, Tamaulipas, Mexico May 25–27, 2004. Building on a previously conducted exercise in 2002, the objectives of the 2004 exercise were to exercise and identify joint response procedures following a significant impact to the shared shorelines. Specifically, the four identified objectives included:

  • Identify Natural Resources Damage Assessment (NRDA) Procedures in Mexico.

  • Address transboundary movement Procedures of collected waste and contaminated equipment with emphasis on movement from Mexico to the U.S.

  • Identify joint procedures for clean-up and rehabilitation of oiled wildlife.

  • Exercise Joint Command and Control Procedures including transboundary and field communications

Shell Exploration and Production Company (SEPCo), working jointly with the U.S. Coast Guard, and the Mexican Secretaria de Marina—Armada de Mexico and with outstanding support from the National Ocaanographic and Atmospheric Administration, The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Minerals Management Service and the Texas General Land Office designed and executed an outstanding exercise well lessons learned were captured and shared.

This paper will cover the planning, logistical considerations, execution and lessons learned from the joint exercise as well as the successful use of the Incident Command System as an incident response management tool for bilateral cooperation.

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Author notes

* This article reflects the opinion of the authors and not necessarily the opinion of the U.S. Coast Guard or Shell Exploration & Production Company.