Conventions on European seas

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Environmental policy instruments important for the establishment of protected areas in Europe.

Conventions on pan-European seas

Barcelona Convention *


The Convention for the Protection Of The Mediterranean Sea Against Pollution came into force in 1978. It was revised in Barcelona, Spain, in June 1995 as the Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment and the Coastal Region of the Mediterranean.

Convention on the Protection of the Marine Environment of the Baltic Sea Area (Helsinki Convention)


The Convention entered into force in January 2000. The Helsinki Commission (HELCOM) is the governing body of the Convention, which works to protect the marine environment of the Baltic Sea from all sources of pollution through intergovernmental cooperation between countries.

The Convention for the Protection of the marine Environment of the North‑East Atlantic (the OSPAR Convention)


The OSPAR Convention is the current legal instrument guiding international cooperation on the protection of the marine environment of the North-East Atlantic. It unified, up-dated, and extended the 1972 Oslo Convention against dumping and the 1974 Paris Convention covering land-based sources and the offshore industry. The new annex on biodiversity and ecosystems was adopted in 1998 to cover non‑polluting human activities that can adversely affect the sea.

The Convention on the Protection of the Black Sea Against Pollution (Bucharest Convention)


The Convention was signed in Bucharest, Romania, and was ratified by all six Black Sea countries in the beginning of 1994. The Convention has given rise to many schemes for the protection of natural habitats. They include the Black Sea Environmental Programme, which organizes conservation work in habitats that are critical for populations of priority species.

Arctic Council


The Ottawa Declaration formally established the Arctic Council as a high level intergovernmental forum providing the means for promoting cooperation, coordination and interaction among the Arctic States, with the involvement of the Arctic indigenous communities and other Arctic inhabitants on common Arctic issues, in particular issues of sustainable development and environmental protection in the Arctic.

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Note: * Instruments marked with an asterisk lead to a specific designation of protected areas.

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