Barcelona Convention

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In 1975 the Mediterranean Action Plan (MAP) was adopted by 16 Mediterranean countries and the European Community. Focus was aimed at marine pollution control. On the 16th of February 1976 these Parties adopted the Convention for the Protection of the Mediterranean Sea Against Pollution or the Barcelona Convention. The Convention Protocols aim to protect and improve the marine and coastal environment in the Mediterranean.

Objectives and aims

  1. Assessing and controlling marine pollution (by development and adoption of Protocols that prescribe measures, procedures and regulations and by using the best environmental practices).
  2. Sustainable management of natural marine and coastal resources.
  3. Protecting the natural and cultural heritage.
  4. Protecting the marine environment and coastal regions through actions aimed at prevention, reduction and elimination of pollution such as the application of the precautionary principle and the polluter pays principle.
  5. Integrating the environment into economic and social development.
  6. Strengthening solidarity by promoting cooperation between countries bordering the Mediterranean.
  7. Contributing to improving quality of life.

Contracting Parties

Contracting Parties of the Barcelona Convention (Credit: Flanders Marine Institute (VLIZ))
  • Albania
  • Algeria
  • Bosnia Herzegovina
  • Croatia
  • Egypt
  • the EU countries (Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom)
  • Israel
  • Italy
  • Lebanon
  • Libya
  • Morocco
  • Monaco
  • Montenegro
  • Syria
  • Tunisia
  • Turkey

The Contracting Parties will take specific measures against all types of pollution that may be a threat to the area in order to protect the biological diversity and establish a pollution monitoring system next to applying environmental legislation. They will also cooperate in the fields of science and technology and work together in case of pollution incidents.


The Barcelona Convention has given rise to several Protocols addressing specific aspects of Mediterranean environmental conservation.

  1. Dumping protocol (from ships and aircraft): This Protocol contains guidelines for dumping of waste and matter from ships and aircraft. Permits may be issued by the competent national authorities.
  2. Prevention and Emergency Protocol (pollution from ships and emergency situations): Cooperation (drawing up emergency plans, exchanging and disseminating information, development of research programs) when a huge quantity of oil and / or other harmful substances present a serious and imminent danger to the marine environment, coast, economic and ecological interests of the Mediterranean.
  3. Land-based Sources and Activities Protocol: The purpose of this Protocol is to combat pollution in the Mediterranean by discharges from rivers, outfalls, canals, other watercourses or discharges from other sources next to cooperation (research and information) and development of measures and standards to reduce or eliminate targeted substances.
  4. Specially Protected Areas and Biological Diversity Protocol: Protection of natural resources and preservation of natural sites by creating specially preserved areas and development of guidelines for management of protected areas and for the protection of animal ans plant species throughout the Mediterranean area.
  5. Offshore Protocol (pollution from exploration and exploitation): This protocol is working on the legal mechanisms in measures relating to prevention and control of pollution in the Mediterranean by ships. The cooperation focuses on maintaining and promotion of plans for preventing and combating pollution from ships, adequate monitoring of the Mediterranean Sea, efforts for recovering hazardous and noxious substances, and the dissemination and exchange of information. The Protocol also provides operational measures in case of pollution by ships, and emergency measures on board ships, in offshore installations and in ports.
  6. Protocol on Integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM): This protocol aims to preserve coastal areas and ecosystems, sustainable use of natural resources, sustainable development of coastal areas, reduction and prevention of natural disasters and climate change, and finally improving cooperation between the contracting parties.


  • Barcelona Convention, Protocol for the prevention of pollution of the Mediterranean Sea by dumping from ships and aircrafts [1]
  • Barcelona Convention, Protocol concerning cooperation in combating pollution of the Mediterranean Sea by oil and other harmful substances in cases of emergency [2]
  • Barcelona Convention, Protocol for the protection of the Mediterranean Sea against pollution from land-based sources [3]
  • Barcelona Convention, Protocol concerning specially protected areas and biological diversity in the Mediterranean [4]
  • Barcelona Convention, Protocol concerning cooperation in preventing pollution from ships and, in cases of emergency, combating pollution of the Mediterranean Sea [5]
  • Barcelona Convention, Protocol on Integrated Coastal Zone Management in the Mediterranean [6]

External links

The main author of this article is Knockaert, Carolien
Please note that others may also have edited the contents of this article.

Citation: Knockaert, Carolien (2020): Barcelona Convention. Available from [accessed on 23-07-2024]