Mediterranean Offshore Action Plan

About the Mediterranean Offshore Action Plan

Conscious that possible significant accidents caused by increasingly intense offshore activities could have long term adverse consequences on the fragile ecosystems and biodiversity of the Mediterranean Sea because of its enclosed nature and special hydrodynamics, as well as the negative consequences on the economies of the Mediterranean coastal States, especially in relation to tourism and fisheries; the Contracting Parties to the Barcelona Convention adopted in 2016 the Mediterranean Offshore Action Plan in the framework of the Protocol for the Protection of the Mediterranean Sea against Pollution resulting from Exploration and Exploitation of the Continental Shelf and the Seabed and its Subsoil (Decision IG.22/3).

Background

The Protocol concerning the Protection of the Mediterranean Sea Against Pollution Resulting from Exploration and Exploitation of the Continental Shelf and the Seabed and its Subsoil (“Offshore Protocol”), was adopted in 1994. However, the said Offshore Protocol and its implementation remained dormant for many years.  The “Deepwater Horizon” oil spill of 20 April 2010 brought back the Offshore Protocol on the agenda of the Mediterranean, European and international community, and led to its entry into force on 24 March 2011 following the ratification by the Syrian Arab Republic on 22 February 2011.  As of June 2016, seven Contracting Parties to the Barcelona Convention are Parties to the Offshore Protocol (Albania, Cyprus, European Union, Libya, Morocco, the Syrian Arab Republic and Tunisia). 

Subsequently, the Seventeenth Ordinary Meeting of the Contracting Parties to the Barcelona Convention and its Protocols, which was held in Paris, France from 8 to 10 February 2012, decided to embark on the development of an Action Plan with a view to facilitating the effective implementation of the Offshore Protocol (UNEP(DEPI)/MED IG 20/8; Decision IG.20/12). 

Based on Decision IG.20/12, the MAP Secretariat included a number of activities aimed at supporting the drafting of the Action Plan in the programme of work of the Ecosystem Approach (EcAp) for the management of human activities that may affect the Mediterranean marine and coastal environment, which is funded by the European Union. 

The Mediterranean Offshore Action Plan was prepared by UNEP/MAP Secretariat with substantive contribution of REMPEC, taking into account the findings of the studies and the recommendations made by the Contracting Parties, and the results of a wide consultative process. This included three meetings of the Offshore Protocol Working Group, the review by the Meeting of the EcAp Coordination Group in 2014, the Joint Session of the 11th Meeting of the Focal Points of REMPEC and the Meeting of MED POL Focal Points (Malta, 17 June 2015) and the MAP Focal Points (Athens, Greece, 13-16 October 2015).

General Objectives

The Mediterranean Offshore Action Plan aims to define measures, which, if applied at regional level and by each Contracting Party within their jurisdiction will ensure the safety of offshore activities and reduce their potential impact on the marine environment and its ecosystem.

  • Setting-up a governance framework to support the implementation of the Action Plan and the adoption, enforcement and monitoring of regional standards, procedures and rules;
  • Defining commonly agreed regional offshore standards and guidelines to be integrated and used at national level; and
  • Develop in conformity with EcAp and its relevant indicators a regional commonly agreed reporting and monitoring system for the Action Plan.

Specific objectives

To achieve theses general objectives, within the implementation timeframe from March 2016 to 31 December 2024, Contracting Parties agreed on ten (10) specific objectives and proposed of each of them expected outputs: 

  1. To ratify the Offshore Protocol
  2. To designate Contracting Parties’ Representatives to participate to the regional governing bodies
  3. To establish a technical cooperation and capacity building programme
  4. To mobilise resources for the implementation of the Action Plan
  5. To promote access to information and public participation in decision making
  6. To enhance the regional transfer of technology
  7. To develop and adopt regional offshore standards
  8. To develop and adopt regional offshore guidelines
  9. To establish regional offshore monitoring procedures and programme
  10. To report on the implementation of the Action Plan