The Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the North-East Atlantic (the OSPAR Convention)


International cooperation to protect the marine environment of the north-east Atlantic is achieved through the OSPAR Convention. With the adoption of Annex V in 1998, the convention embraced a more holistic responsibility for environmental protection in the region, including its biodiversity. The Convention is expected to play a key role as one of the co-ordinating mechanisms to help Member States meet the obligations of the EU Marine Strategy Framework Directive.


The Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the North-East Atlantic (The OSPAR Convention) was adopted in Paris, France in September 1992 and entered into force in March 1998. The OSPAR Convention replaced both the Convention for the Prevention of Marine Pollution by Dumping from Ships and Aircraft (the Oslo Convention) (adopted in 1972) and the Convention for the Prevention of Marine Pollution from Land-Based Sources (the Paris Convention) (adopted in 1974), with the intention of providing a comprehensive and simplified approach to addressing all sources of pollution which might affect the maritime area, and all matters relating to the protection of the marine environment. It retained all decisions, recommendations and agreements adopted under the previous Conventions, subject to termination through the adoption of new measures under OSPAR.  The Commission has adopted five strategies for directing its work. Measures and programmes within the Biodiversity Strategy include the identification of ecological quality objectives for the North Sea, development of lists of species and habitats in need of protection, identification and selection of marine protected areas, and the prevention and control of adverse impacts from human activities.

The UK ratified OSPAR in 1998, and Annex V and Appendix 3 in June 2000. The OSPAR Commission Secretariat is based in London; UK implementation is coordinated by the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), with contributions to OSPAR Committees by a variety of government departments, the devolved administrations and agencies.


JNCC plays an active role in providing advice to Government to support OSPAR commitments, particularly in relation to implementation of Annex V on Biodiversity Strategy. This includes supporting Defra at Biodiversity Committee meetings, and through various intersessional groups and activities. This advice has centred on the main work areas of species and habitat protection; ecological quality objectives; marine protected areas; and assessment of the impacts of human activities. JNCC takes the lead role for OSPAR in the mapping of habitats on the OSPAR List.


June 2013