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Our Oceans, Seas and Coasts

The OSPAR Convention

The OSPAR Convention for the Protection of the marine Environment of the North-East Atlantic

picture of a beach

The OSPAR Convention (1992) is the  legal instrument guiding international cooperation for the protection of the marine environment of the North-East Atlantic. Work under the Convention is managed by the OSPAR Commission, made up of representatives of the Governments of 15 Contracting Parties and the European Commission, representing the European Union.

Under its North-East Atlantic Environment Strategy (NEAES) 2010-2020, OSPAR is taking forward work related to the implementation of the Ecosystem Approach (NEAE Strategy Part I) and the five thematic strategies (on eutrophication, hazardous substances, radioactive substances, offshore oil and gas industry, biodiversity and ecosystems: NEAE Strategy Part II) to address the main threats that it has identified concerning issues within its competence. Work is guided by the five thematic strategies and the cross cutting Joint Assessment and Monitoring Programme (JAMP).

Under each theme, work is undertaken in relation to the monitoring and assessment of the status of the marine environment, the results of which are used to follow up implementation of the strategies and the resulting benefits to the marine environment. Programmes and measures are developed by thematic Committees on the basis of proposals by Contracting Parties.

Since the publication of the last OSPAR Quality Status Report (2010), OSPAR has been working with other Regional Seas Conventions and the European Commission to develop assessment tools, such as indicators of the state of the marine environment. These are required for delivery of both the OSPAR North-East Atlantic Environment Strategy  and the EU Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD).  

The OSPAR Intermediate Assessment published in 2017 (IA 2017) is indicator-based, including key messages for each of the 42 indicator assessments, laying the foundation for future reporting of status and trends across the North-East Atlantic.


OSPAR and the EU

The objective of the Marine Strategy Framework Directive to reach Good Environmental Status of the marine waters by 2020 through marine strategies which apply the ecosystem-based approach is very much in line with the objectives and approaches by OSPAR; the EU Commission encourages Member States which are also OSPAR Contracting Parties to take into account the need for regionally coordinated MSFD implementation when working in OSPAR. The Commission also supports the protection of the Arctic environment through OSPAR.

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