The accidents that polluted the French, Spanish, Moroccan and Portuguese coasts, including the Aragon’s shipwreck in Madeira in 1990, demonstrated the need for a regional agreement to combat marine pollution, covering the waters of the Northeast Atlantic.
Thus in 1990 the Portuguese Government made a proposal to the European Commission.
On 17 October 1990, Portugal, France, Morocco, Spain and the then European Economic Community have signed the agreement for the protection of the Northeast Atlantic’s coasts and waters, or Lisbon Agreement.
On 20 May 2008, an Additional Protocol was signed that modified the southern limit.
The Lisbon Agreement is a mechanism to ensure cooperation between the Contracting Parties in the event of a pollution incident at sea. The Agreement requires the Contracting Parties to set up their own system of prevention and control, to equip themselves with pollution control equipment and to set their own national plans of action.
The Lisbon Agreement is in force since 1 February 2014 after all parties have deposited their respective instruments of ratification.
Contribute to the development and joint establishment of a set of directives on the practical, operational and technical aspects of a joint action against pollution of the marine environment by hydrocarbons and other harmful substances in the area covered by the Agreement.
Strengthen the capacity for mutual assistance and facilitate the cooperation between the Contracting Parties to the Agreement in the fight against marine pollution by hydrocarbons and other harmful substances.
Contribute and assist the Contracting Parties in order to install and equip pollution control authorities capable of acting quickly and effectively in the event of a pollution incident or accident, in accordance with established and pre-trained national contingency plans.
Assist Contracting Parties to the Agreement, when such help is need, to establish a rapid and effective way of acting to combat pollution caused by hydrocarbons and other harmful substances.
Establish communication and operational systems to facilitate information exchange, technical cooperation and training between the Contracting Parties.
Sensitize the Contracting Parties to the Agreement to ensure compliance with other International Conventions in the area of marine pollution.
The legal framework of the Lisbon Agreement consists of the Agreement itself and the Additional Protocol which must be interpreted and applied together as a single instrument.
The area covered by the Lisbon Agreement consists of the Northeast Atlantic Ocean region, defined by the outer limit of the Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs) of the Contracting States and also by the limits of other neighbouring Regional Agreements (Bonn Agreement and Barcelona Convention).
North, until the North of France (Island of Ouessant – southern limit of the Bonn Agreement).
South, southern limit of waters under the sovereignty or jurisdiction of any of the Contracting States.
West, western limit of the EEZ of the Contracting States.
East, western limit (Strait of Gibraltar) of the Convention for the protection of the Mediterranean Sea against pollution (Barcelona Convention).
In order to assist the Contracting Parties to react quickly and effectively to pollution incidents, the Lisbon Agreement provides that the depositary State shall ensure the following functions:
1. Establishing close working relationships with national and international organisations in the region covered by the Agreement and, where appropriate, outside this region.
2. Based on the above principle and using all the existing competences in the region, coordinating national and regional training, technical cooperation and expertise in case of emergency.
3. Collecting and disseminating information on pollution incidents (inventories, expert opinions, reports of incidents, state of the art to improve action plans, etc.).
4. Developing information transmission systems, including information to be exchanged in case of emergency.
5. Exchange of information on marine pollution monitoring techniques.
6. Secretariat of the Agreement.
Av. Dr. Alfredo Magalhães Ramalho, N.6
1495-006 Lisboa | Portugal