Tag Archives: Marine pollution

Strategy for the marine environment

Strategy for the marine environment

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Strategy for the marine environment

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Maritime Affairs And Fisheries > Management of fisheries resources and the environment

Strategy for the marine environment

Document or Iniciative

Directive 2008/56/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 June 2008 establishing a framework for Community action in the field of marine environmental policy (Marine Strategy Framework Directive).

Summary

This directive establishes common principles on the basis of which Member States have to draw up their own strategies, in cooperation with other Member States and third countries, to achieve a good ecological status* in the marine waters for which they are responsible.

These strategies aim to protect and restore Europe’s marine ecosystems and to ensure the ecological sustainability of economic activities linked to the marine environment.

Europe’s seas may be divided into four regions (with possible subregions): the Baltic Sea, the North-East Atlantic, the Mediterranean and the Black Sea. In each region and possibly in the subregions to which they belong, the Member States concerned must coordinate their actions with each other and with the third countries involved. To this end they can benefit from the experience and capabilities of existing regional organisations.

Marine strategies at regional level

Member States must firstly assess the ecological status of their waters and the impact of human activities. This assessment covers:

  • an analysis of the essential characteristics of these waters (physical and chemical features, types of habitat, animal and plant populations, etc.);
  • an analysis of the main impacts and pressures, particularly as a result of human activities which affect the characteristics of these waters (contamination by toxic products, eutrophication, smothering or sealing of habitats by construction work, introduction of non-indigenous species, physical damage caused by ship anchors, etc.);
  • an economic and social analysis of the use of these waters and the cost of the degradation of the marine environment.

This initial evaluation will help to improve knowledge of European waters, thanks to instruments already used for other policies such as GMES and the programme commonly called INSPIRE.

Member States must then determine the “good ecological status”* of the waters on the basis of criteria such as biodiversity, the presence of non-indigenous species, stock health, the food chain, eutrophication, changes in hydrographic conditions and concentrations of contaminants, the amount of waste and noise pollution.

On the basis of the evaluation of waters, the Member States must define the objectives and indicators to achieve this good ecological status. These objectives must be measurable, consistent within a particular maritime region or subregion and tied to a definite timetable.

Member States draw up a programme of specific measures to achieve these objectives. These measures must give due consideration to their economic and social consequences. Member States must specify the reasons preventing successful completion of any of these measures (action or inaction of another State, forcemajeure, etc.). Before they are implemented, the measures decided by the Member States must be the subject of impact assessments and cost/benefit analyses.

Member States must also establish coordinated monitoring programmes in order to evaluate on a regular basis the status of the waters for which they are responsible and progress with regard to the objectives they have set.

Key elements of the strategies are reviewed every six years and interim reports are drawn up every three years.

A common framework for cooperation

The Commission is the guarantor of the coherence of actions by the Member States; they have to submit the details of the key elements of their strategies at each stage of their formulation. This information is examined by the Commission, which can give the States guidance on how to ensure compliance with the strategy and the coherence of the proposed measures.

Member States who are in the same marine region are required to coordinate their action. To this end the strategy recommends use of the cooperation mechanisms set up by existing international conventions. The international organisations established by these conventions provide their scientific and technical know-how and allow cooperation to be extended to third countries that are parties.

The Community approach also ensures coherence between the sectors and with other European policies, such as the or the , of which this Framework Directive represents the “environment” pillar.

Context

The marine environment is a precious asset. Oceans and seas provide 99 % of the available living space on the planet, cover 71 % of the earth’s surface and contain 90 % of the biosphere and consequently contain more biological diversity than terrestrial and freshwater ecosystems. The marine environment is essential to life on earth (particularly as the main source of oxygen) and plays a key role in climate and weather patterns. It is also an important factor in economic prosperity, social wellbeing and quality of life.

Key terms

  • Ecological status: the overall state of the environment in marine waters, taking into account the structure, function and processes of the constituent marine ecosystems together with natural physiographic, geographic, biological, geological and climatic factors, as well as physical, acoustic and chemical conditions, including those resulting from human activities inside or outside the area concerned.
  • Good ecological status: the environmental status of marine waters where these provide ecologically diverse and dynamic oceans and seas which are clean, healthy and productive within their intrinsic conditions, and the use of the marine environment is at a level that is sustainable, thus safeguarding the potential for uses and activities by current and future generations, i.e.:
    • the structure, functions and processes of the constituent marine ecosystems, together with the associated physiographic, geographic, geological and climatic factors, allow those ecosystems to function fully and to maintain their resilience to human-induced environmental change. Marine species and habitats are protected, human-induced decline of biodiversity is prevented and diverse biological components function in balance;
    • hydro-morphological, physical and chemical properties of the ecosystems, including those properties which result from human activities in the area concerned, support the ecosystems as described above. Anthropogenic inputs of substances and energy, including noise, into the marine environment do not cause pollution effects.
  • Good ecological status shall be determined at the level of the marine region or subregion as referred to in Article 4, on the basis of the qualitative descriptors in Annex I. Adaptive management on the basis of the ecosystem approach shall be applied with the aim of attaining good ecological status.

References

Act

Entry into force

Transposition deadline for Member States

Official Journal

Directive 2008/56/EC

15.7.2008

15.7.2010

OJ L 164, 25.6.2008

Related Acts

Communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament of 24 October 2005, “Thematic strategy on the protection and conservation of the marine environment” [COM(2005) 504 – Not published in the Official Journal].

Communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament of 2 October 2002, “Towards a strategy to protect and conserve the marine environment” [COM(2002) 539 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Decision 98/249/EC of 7 October 1997 on the conclusion of the Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the North-East Atlantic (Paris Convention) [Official Journal L 104 of 3.4.1998].

Decision 94/157/EC of 21 February 1994 on the conclusion, on behalf of the Community, of the Convention on the Protection of the Marine Environment of the Baltic Sea area (Helsinki Convention as revised in 1992) [Official Journal L 73 of 16.3.1994].

Decision 77/585/EEC of 25 July 1977 concluding the Convention for the Protection of the Mediterranean Sea against Pollution and the Protocol for the Prevention of the Pollution of the Mediterranean Sea by dumping from ships and aircraft [Official Journal L 240 of 19.9.1977].

Barcelona Convention for the protection of the Mediterranean

Barcelona Convention for the protection of the Mediterranean

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Barcelona Convention for the protection of the Mediterranean

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Environment > Water protection and management

Barcelona Convention for the protection of the Mediterranean

Acts

Council Decision 77/585/EEC of 25 July 1977 concluding the Convention for the protection of the Mediterranean Sea against pollution and the Protocol for the prevention of the pollution of the Mediterranean Sea by dumping from ships and aircraft.

Council Decision 81/420/EEC of 19 May 1981 on the conclusion of the Protocol concerning cooperation in combating pollution of the Mediterranean Sea by oil and other harmful substances in cases of emergency.

Council Decision 83/101/EEC of 28 February 1983 concluding the Protocol for the protection of the Mediterranean Sea against pollution from land-based sources.

Council Decision 84/132/EEC of 1 March 1984 on the conclusion of the Protocol concerning Mediterranean specially protected areas.

Council Decision 2004/575/EC of 29 April 2004 on the conclusion, on behalf of the European Community, of the Protocol to the Barcelona Convention for the Protection of the Mediterranean Sea against Pollution, concerning cooperation in preventing pollution from ships and, in cases of emergency, combating pollution of the Mediterranean Sea.

Council Decision 2010/631/EU of 13 September 2010 concerning the conclusion, on behalf of the European Union, of the Protocol on Integrated Coastal Zone Management in the Mediterranean to the Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment and the Coastal Region of the Mediterranean.

Summary

Decision 77/585/EEC enables the Community to accede to the Convention for the protection of the Mediterranean Sea against pollution (Barcelona Convention) and the Protocol for the prevention of pollution of the Mediterranean Sea by dumping from ships and aircraft. The purpose of these two instruments, together with the protocols to which the Community has subsequently acceded (by Decisions 81/420/EEC, 83/101/EEC, 84/132/EEC 2004/575/EC and 2010/631/EU), is to limit pollution in the Mediterranean region.

Barcelona Convention

The Convention for the protection of the Mediterranean Sea against pollution was adopted in Barcelona on 16 February 1976 and amended on 10 June 1995. Over time, its mandate has been widened to include planning and the integrated management of the coastal region.

The 22 Contracting Parties * to the Convention will individually or jointly take all appropriate measures to protect and improve the Mediterranean marine environment in order to contribute to sustainable development. In order to meet this objective, the Parties undertake to reduce, combat and, as far as possible, eliminate pollution in this area.

The main aims of the Convention consist of:

  • assessing and controlling pollution;
  • carrying out the sustainable management of natural marine and coastal resources;
  • integrating the environment into economic and soci al development;
  • protecting the marine environment and coastal regions through action aimed at preventing and reducing pollution and, as far as possible, eliminating it, whether it is due to activities on land or at sea;
  • protecting natural and cultural heritage;
  • strengthening solidarity between countries bordering the Mediterranean; and
  • contributing to improving quality of life.

The Convention encourages the Parties to:

  • introduce a system of cooperation and information to reduce or eliminate pollution resulting from a critical situation in the Mediterranean;
  • establish a continuous pollution monitoring system;
  • cooperate in the fields of science and technology;
  • work out appropriate procedures for the determination of liability and compensation for damage resulting from pollution deriving from violations of the provisions of the Convention;
  • draft procedures enabling them to monitor application of the Convention.

The Convention lays down mechanisms for the settlement of disputes and for arbitration to settle any disputes between the Parties on the interpretation or application of the Convention.

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) carries out secretariat functions in the framework of the implementation of the Convention (convening and preparing meetings, coordination, etc.).

The Convention was amended in 1995. The main amendments concerned:

  • the extension of the Convention’s geographical field of application to the coast;
  • the application of the precautionary principle;
  • the application of the “polluter pays” principle;
  • the promotion of impact assessments;
  • the protection and preservation of biological diversity;
  • combating pollution from cross-border movements of dangerous waste;
  • access to information and public participation.

Protocol for the prevention of pollution of the Mediterranean Sea by dumping from ships and aircraft

The Protocol covers only pollution of the region of the Mediterranean Sea caused by ships and aircraft.

Dumping of certain types of waste and matter (toxic organohalogen and organosilicon compounds, mercury, cadmium, plastics, crude oil, etc.) is prohibited.

Dumping of other matter or types of waste (arsenic, lead, copper, zinc, chrome, nickel, containers, scrap metal, certain types of pesticides, etc.) is subject to the prior issue of a permit by the competent national authorities.

Such permits may be issued only after careful consideration of a number of factors (characteristics and composition of the matter, characteristics of dumping site and method of deposit, general considerations and conditions).

Ships and aircraft used for other than governmental and non-commercial purposes are excluded from the scope of the Protocol.

Since 1995, a number of amendments have been added to the Protocol. These amendments concern, in particular, the clarification of terms defined by the Protocol, waste or other matter authorised for dumping subject to the issue of a special permit, the ban on incineration at sea, and the procedure to follow in the event of a critical and exceptional situation.

Protocol concerning cooperation in combating pollution of the Mediterranean Sea by oil and other harmful substances in cases of emergency

This Protocol stipulates that the Parties will cooperate when a huge quantity of oil and/or other harmful substances in the Mediterranean Sea, whether accidental or cumulative, presents a serious and imminent danger to the marine environment, the coast or the economic, health or ecological interests of one or more Parties.

This cooperation focuses on drawing up emergency plans, promoting measures for combating oil pollution in the sea, monitoring and exchanging information regarding the state of the Mediterranean Sea, disseminating information on the organisation of resources and on new methods to prevent and combat pollution, and developing research programmes on the subject.

The Protocol requires all Parties facing a critical situation to carry out the necessary, precise evaluations concerning the nature and the size of the accident, take all measures likely to reduce or eliminate the effects of this pollution, and inform other Parties, either directly or through the Regional Centre for the Mediterranean Sea created by the Barcelona Convention, of these evaluations and actions undertaken.

Protocol for the protection of the Mediterranean Sea against pollution from land-based sources

The purpose of this Protocol is to combat pollution in the Mediterranean Sea caused by discharges from rivers, outfalls, canals or other watercourses, or pollution emanating from any other source or activity within the territory of the States Party to the Protocol.

The Protocol lists the substances of which discharge is prohibited, and the factors which should be taken into account in order to eliminate pollution from these substances. It also lists substances for which discharge is subject to authorisation by the competent national authorities. This authorisation must take particular account of the characteristics and composition of the waste, the characteristics of the elements in the waste in terms of harmfulness, the characteristics of the place where the waste is discharged and the marine environment it is entering, the techniques available to manage the waste, as well as possible damage to marine ecosystems and its effect on sea water usage.

The Protocol also stipulates cooperation regarding research and information, and the adoption of appropriate programmes, measures and standards aimed at reducing or eliminating the targeted substances.

Since 1996, a number of amendments have been added to the Protocol. These amendments concern, in particular, the application of the precautionary principle, the extension of the scope of the Protocol to airborne pollution of land-based origin, the regulatory system for waste discharge, the continued monitoring of pollution levels, and technical assistance to developing countries.

Protocol concerning specially protected areas and biological diversity in the Mediterranean

The Protocol concerning specially protected areas in the Mediterranean, to which the Community acceded in 1984, protects natural resources in the Mediterranean region, preserves the diversity of the gene pool and protects certain natural sites by creating a series of specially preserved areas.

The Protocol as amended in 1995 makes a distinction between specially protected areas (already provided for in the former Protocol) and specially protected areas of Mediterranean importance. It stipulates that the Parties develop guidelines for establishing and managing protected areas and lists a certain number of appropriate measures which the Parties must adopt, including:

  • prohibiting the discharge or unloading of waste;
  • regulating shipping operations;
  • regulating the introduction of any non-indigenous or genetically modified species;
  • any other measures protecting the ecological and biological processes and the countryside.

Furthermore, it introduces national or local measures which the Parties must take in order to protect animal and plant species throughout the Mediterranean area.

The Protocol also provides for exemptions to be granted because of traditional activities carried out by local populations. However, these exemptions must not compromise the preservation of the protected ecosystems, nor the biological processes making up these ecosystems, nor must they cause the extinction or a substantial fall in numbers of any species or animal or plant populations included within the protected ecosystems.

The annexes to the new Protocol include a list of common criteria which the Parties must respect when choosing which marine and coastal areas are to be protected under the system of specially protected areas of Mediterranean importance. The annexes also list threatened or endangered species as well as including a list of species whose exploitation is regulated.

Protocol concerning cooperation in preventing pollution from ships and, in cases of emergency, combating pollution of the Mediterranean Sea

This Protocol updates the legal mechanisms in the Barcelona Convention by incorporating in it measures concerning cooperation between Parties regarding prevention and, in cases of emergency, combating pollution in the Mediterranean caused by ships. It also endeavours to promote the development and implementation of international regulations adopted in the framework of the International Maritime Organization.

Cooperation focuses on maintaining and promoting emergency plans and other means for preventing and combating pollution from ships, adequate monitoring of the Mediterranean Sea, efforts to recover harmful and potentially dangerous substances, as well as disseminating and exchanging information.

The Protocol also stipulates operational measures which the Parties must take in the event of pollution caused by ships (evaluation, elimination/reduction, information measures), as well as emergency measures which must be taken on board ships, in offshore installations and in ports (in particular the availability of and compliance with emergency plans).

Protocol on Integrated Coastal Zone Management in the Mediterranean

This Protocol, which aims at establishing a common framework for Integrated Coastal Zone Management * (ICZM) in the Mediterranean, entered into force on 24 March 2011. It is the first instrument of international law to be entirely and solely devoted to ICZM.

ICZM has six aims:

  • sustainable development of coastal zones by rational planning of activities;
  • preservation of coastal zones;
  • sustainable use of natural resources;
  • preservation of ecosystems and coastlines;
  • prevention and reduction of natural disasters and climate change;
  • improvement of cooperation.

Furthermore, the Protocol defines the general principles of ICZM, the coordinating procedures required for its implementation, its founding pillars, and the instruments of ICZM.

Key terms of the Act
  • Contracting Parties: Albania, Algeria, Bosnia Herzegovina, Cyprus, the European Community, Croatia, Egypt, Spain, France, Greece, Israel, Italy, Lebanon, Libya, Malta, Morocco, Monaco, Montenegro, Slovenia, Syria, Tunisia, Turkey.
  • Integrated Coastal Zone Management: a dynamic process for the sustainable management and use of coastal zones, taking into account at the same time the fragility of coastal ecosystems and landscapes, the diversity of activities and uses, interactions between the latter, the maritime vocation of some of the latter, and their impact both on land and sea.

References

Act Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal

Decision 77/585/EEC

25.7.1977

OJ L 240, 19.9.1977

Decision 81/420/EEC

19.5.1981

OJ L 162, 19.6.1981

Decision 83/101/EEC

28.2.1983

OJ L 67, 12.3.1983

Decision 84/132/EEC

1.3.1984

OJ L 68, 10.3.1984

Decision 2004/575/EC

29.4.2004

OJ L 261, 6.8.2004

Decision 2010/631/EU

13.9.2010

OJ L 279, 23.10.2010