Contingency Planning


Effective oil and hazardous and noxious substances (HNS) spill responses that minimize environmental, economic and health impacts are a result of significant advance planning and coordination between the government and owner/operators of ship and offshore and oil handling facilities and chemical industries. The foundation of this planning and coordination is typically codified in a National Contingency Plan that describes the entire National Preparedness and Response System.

Contingency planning is essential for countries to respond to spills of oil and HNS promptly and effectively. A contingency plan should reflect a government’s policy towards oil and HNS indents and clarify the roles and responsibilities of the different players involved ; it should also identify the capabilities that are in place to prepare for these events and the response strategy to be followed.  

Legal instruments - International level

At an international level, the legal framework dealing with the preparedness for and response to marine pollution, is based on two legal instruments:

  1. the International Convention on Oil Pollution Preparedness, Response and Co-operation (OPRC 1990), adopted on 30 November 1990 and entered into force on 13 May 1995, which provides an international framework for preparedness (contingency planning), for response (international assistance) and for cooperation (research and development and technical cooperation); and
  2. the Protocol on Preparedness, Response and Cooperation to Pollution Incidents by Hazardous and Noxious substances (OPRC-HNS Protocol), adopted on 15 March 2000 and entered into force on 14 June 2007, which complete the OPRC Convention by providing a global framework to facilitate international co-operation and mutual assistance in preparing for and responding to major pollution incidents or threats of marine pollution by introducing the same principles with regards to incidents involving HNS.


Legal instruments - Regional level

At a regional level, the preparedness for and response to marine pollution is based on

  1. The Protocol concerning Cooperation in Combating Pollution of the Mediterranean Sea by Oil and other Harmful Substances in Cases of Emergency (1976 Emergency Protocol), adopted on 16 February 1976 and entered into force on 12 February 1978 to establish a framework of regional co-operation in the field of preparedness for and response to marine pollution from ships in the Mediterranean.
  2. The Protocol Concerning Cooperation in Preventing Pollution from Ships and, in cases of Emergency, Combating Pollution of the Mediterranean Sea (2002, Prevention and Emergency Protocol), adopted on 25 January 2002 to replace the 1976 Emergency Protocol which came into force on 17 March 2004. This protocol sets the foundations for regional co-operation in the fields of prevention of, preparedness for and response (PPR) to marine pollution from ships in the Mediterranean. 
  3. 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 (1994 Offshore Protocol), adopted in 1994 and entered into force on 24 March 2011. This protocol sets a legal framework to protect the Mediterranean Sea from the pollution generated from offshore activities. 


National Contingency Plan

Element of a National Contingency Plan

The cornerstone of any National Preparedness and Response System is a National Contingency Plan. In accordance with International and Regional legal instruments, Contracting Parties are required to establish National Contingency Plans (NCP). The NCP could cover oil and HNS spills either separately or together. Essential element of a NCP are:

  • Responsibilities of the competent National Authority
  • Relevant national and international legislation
  • Spill risk assessment
  • Notification, reporting and alerting,
  • Spill assessment
  • National spill response management organisation
  • Sensitivity maps
  • Response resources
  • Response strategies
  • Waste management
  • Demobilisation and termination of response
  • Restauration and post-spill monitoring
  • Training , exercising, record keeping and plan updating requirement


REMPEC Assistance in the development of National Contingency Plans to Contracting Parties to the Barcelona Convention:

REMPEC has assisted the relevant national authorities of Albania, Algeria, Bosnia, Croatia, Cyprus, Egypt, Israel, Lebanon, Libyan, Malta, Montenegro, Morocco, Slovenia, Syria, Tunisia and Türkiye to develop their NCP to better prepare for and respond to marine pollution incidents. Overall, 81% of the Mediterranean Coastal States have today completed their NCP.


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Status of the National Contingency Plans in the Mediterranean Coastal States

                                                September 2022

Sub-regional Contingency Plan

In line with its mandate, REMPEC has supported Mediterranean coastal States in the preparation of sub-regional contingency plans. Such sub-regional arrangements for mutual assistance in helping to manage marine pollution emergencies, significantly extends the spill response capacities of individual countries, by providing a mechanism for pooling resources and jointly conducting response operations

To date six were developed in different region of the Mediterranean:

  • Ramoge between France, Italy, Monaco
  • Lion between France and Spain
  • South-Eastern Mediterranean between Cyprus, Egypt and Israel
  • South-Western Mediterranean between Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia
  • The Adriatic between Croatia, Italy and Slovenia
  • South-Eastern Mediterranean between Cyprus, Greece and Israel
  • South Eastern Mediterranean between Cyprus, Egypt and Greece