Regional sea conventions are agreements among countries sharing a common body of water, setting rules for the management of marine resources in that region. Covering topics like pollution prevention, climate change, pressures borne from human activities, protection and conservation of biodiversity and ecosystems; these conventions foster cooperation and coordination among riparian states to combat pollution and ensure sustainable development by establishing strategies and regional plans for their respective regions.

The relation between the EU and Regional Sea Conventions

The Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD) is the primary directive of the European Parliament and the Council, in the field of marine environmental policy. Its overall aim is to promote the sustainable use of the seas and conserve marine ecosystems. The MSFD mandates that Member States collaborate in developing their marine strategies, emphasizing the importance of cooperation. Articles 6 and 8 of the MSFD highlight the use of regional sea conventions' coordination capabilities to establish marine strategies and conduct initial assessments, ensuring a comprehensive evaluation of the marine environment's status.

The Member States are contracting parties to four Conventions:

How do Regional Sea Conventions work?

Regional Sea Conventions have their own strategies or strategic action plan documents. These documents are adopted by the Contracting Parties, are shaped around goals for the region and can be updated based on the changing needs of the region. These goals address the pressures from land and sea-based activities, aiming to achieve a healthy and sustainable state of biodiversity. The action plan documents are the instrumental for coordinating the collaboration among Contracting Parties for combatting problems in their regions.

Several regional seas conventions and action plans are currently incorporating the ecosystem approach into their existing strategies, action plans, and monitoring efforts. Notably, the North-East Atlantic (OSPAR), Baltic (HELCOM), and Mediterranean (UNEP/MAP) regions have formulated an approach that aligns with and is comparable to the standards outlined in the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD). This involves defining Ecological Objectives, setting targets, and establishing indicators for environmental monitoring purposes.