Within the different regional seas surrounding Europe, the Regional Sea Conventions (RSCs) engage neighbouring countries for the conservation of their common marine environment. Their work areas cover maritime activities, pressures resulting from them, as well as biodiversity and ecosystems protection. The RSCs implement coordinated monitoring programmes in the regional sea basins, and perform joint assessments of the state of the environment.
Based on this, Article 6 of the MSFD requires EU Member States to use existing institutional cooperation structures such as the RSCs in order to implement the marine strategies in the most coherent way at the regional level. Similarly, Article 8 requires to take into account other relevant assessments such as those carried out in the context of RSCs, to produce a comprehensive assessment of the status of the marine environment.
Sources: © ESRI; © OSPAR Data and Information Management System; © Europe's Seas, EEA
There are four RSCs in Europe comprising national governments as contracting parties, the European Commission being also a contracting party to all but to the Bucharest convention:
- The Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment in the North-East Atlantic of 1992 – the OSPAR Convention (OSPAR)
- The Convention on the Protection of the Marine Environment in the Baltic Sea Area of 1992 – the Helsinki Convention (HELCOM)
- The Convention for the Protection of Marine Environment and the Coastal Region of the Mediterranean of 1995 – the Barcelona Convention (UNEP-MAP)
- The Convention for the Protection of the Black Sea of 1992 – the Bucharest Convention (Black Sea Commission)
All four RSC’s in Europe support their contracting parties in the implementation of the MSFD through their regional monitoring and assessment programmes.