Regional cooperation

Over and above international conventions, coastal countries in particularly exposed maritime areas are often party to regional cooperation agreements and conventions with a specific section on accidental spills, in a bid to harmonise surveillance practices and response standards by facilitating exchange and mutual assistance between coastal countries. The most advanced agreements and conventions include standard format pollution reporting systems, lists of equipment stockpiles and specialists in each country which may be made available to partners, manuals for common usage by responders and regular mutual alert and cooperation exercises.

Agreements and conventions on operational and accidental release from maritime transportation and oil production cover all peripheral seas.

The conventions concerning the Mediterranean and the Caribbean instituted the creation of permanent bodies under the umbrella of the International Maritime Organization, known as regional marine pollution emergency centres (REMPEC in the Mediterranean and REMPEITC in the Caribbean).

Certain international agreements have more local vocations, such as the Ramoge Agreement, involving France, Monaco and Italy for the area from Saint-Raphaël (France) to Genoa (Italy). There are also several bilateral agreements in existence.

Other regional conventions and agreements cover numerous other maritime areas, outside of the European Union.

For instance, the Action Plan for the Protection, Management and Development of the Marine and Coastal Environment of the Northwest Pacific Region (NOWPAP) was adopted in September 1994 as a part of the Regional Seas Programme of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). This regional cooperation involves China, Japan, Korea and Russia. Within this framework, a Regional Oil and Hazardous and Noxious Substances (HNS) Spill Contingency Plan is currently being worked on.

More information

Certain agreements or associated organisations have websites which provide information on regional maritime traffic, accident case histories, regional prevention and response measures and means for accidents and operational discharge. The following sites are of particular interest:
• Bonn Agreement (North Sea):

• Helsinki Convention (Baltic Sea):

• Barcelona Convention (Mediterranean):

• REMPEC (Mediterranean):

• REMPEITC (Caribbean) :

• PACPOL (Pacific):

Aerial surveillance

Cooperation in terms of aerial surveillance
of operational discharge has been set up through the Bonn Agreement and the Helsinki Convention. The contracting parties carry out joint flights (known as tours d’horizon) and exchange their observations of discharge, which are summarised on maps made available on the internet.


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Agreements in the European Union

• the Helsinki Convention on the protection of the marine environment for the Baltic Sea

• the Bonn Agreement for cooperation in terms of oil pollution response in the North Sea

• the Lisbon Agreement for the protection of the north-east Atlantic against pollution

• the Barcelona Convention for the protection of the Mediterranean Sea

• the Bucharest Convention on the protection of the Black Sea against pollution.

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The example of France

France is a contracting party:
• for the Antilles, to the Cartagena Convention, on the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico
• for the Réunion, to the Nairobi Convention for the protection, management and development of the marine and coastal environment of the eastern African region
• for French Polynesia and New Caledonia, to PACPOL (the Pacific Ocean Pollution Prevention Programme) on pollution response in the Pacific.

Finally, examples of bilateral agreements to which France is a contracting party are the Anglo-French Manche Plan for the Channel, the Franco-Spanish Biscay Plan for the Bay of Biscay and the Franco-Spanish Lion Plan for the Gulf of Lion.

More information

Regional conventions in force concerning EU countries