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Update on the Barcelona Convention

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The most vital regulatory instrument directed to the protection of the Mediterranean marine and coastal life is the Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment and the Coastal Region of the Mediterranean (Barcelona Convention), which was entered into full force in 2004. Here, we look at the current situation regarding the agreement.


The Barcelona Convention itself proposes as its main objectives, “to prevent, abate, combat and to the fullest extent possible eliminate pollution of the Mediterranean Sea Area” and consequently, “to protect and enhance the marine environment in that Area so as to contribute towards its sustainable development.” Currently, all the countries that surround the Mediterranean, a total of 21, as well as the European Union itself are parties to the Barcelona Convention; this is evident in the map above that demonstrates the ratification status and its seven Protocols in the nation states.

Geographic coverage

Barcelona ConventionCovering the Mediterranean Sea, including its gulfs and seas (other than the Black Sea), countries in the region are permitted to extend the Barcelona Convention’s application within their own territory. Additionally, other Protocols stretch the Barcelona Convention’s geographic coverage to also include land that is drained into the Mediterranean Sea Area (the hydrologic basin), waters on the landward side of area boundaries, marshes and grown waters communicating with the Sea, seabed and subsoil, wetlands, and coastal areas. There are also restrictions with hazardous discharge that may “be transported to the Mediterranean Sea Area under prevailing meteorological conditions.”

How things stand

Contracting Parties in the Convention have adopted Protocol for the Protection of the Mediterranean Sea against Pollution Resulting from Exploration and Exploitation of the Continental Shelf and the Seabed and its Subsoil (“Offshore Protocol”) (adopted on 14 October 1994) and the Protocol on Integrated Coastal Zone Management in the Mediterranean (“Integrated Coastal Zone Management Protocol”) (adopted 21 January 2008).

However, to date, very few countries have ratified these protocols and are hence not yet in force. Although continuous efforts have been made, additional efforts have yet to be increased. Eyes and observation must be set for future efforts for a sustainable ecological environment for our future. If you want to see which areas the Barcelona Convention applies, you can check out our EMODnet Human Activities interactive map.

The information and views set out in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official opinion of the European Commission. Neither the European Commission nor any person acting on the European Commission's behalf may be held responsible for the use which may be made of the information therein.

September 11th, 2018 | Written by

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