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The Mediterranean Action Plan's legal framework is based on the Barcelona Convention, which was adopted in 1976 and amended in 1995. The Barcelona Convention is supported by seven Protocols, each addressing different aspects of Mediterranean conservation. One such protocol is the Protocol concerning Specially Protected Areas and Biological Diversity (SPA/BD Protocol).

The SPA/BD Protocol was adopted in 1995 by the Conference of Plenipotentiaries of the Barcelona Convention held in Barcelona on 9 and 10 June 1995. It entered into force on 19 December 1999 replacing the Protocol concerning Mediterranean Specially Protected Areas, adopted in Geneva in 1982.

The 1995 Protocol introduced a broader focus on biodiversity, including the establishment of Specially Protected Areas of Mediterranean Importance (SPAMIs), which can be declared in areas under the jurisdiction of more than one country and on the high seas.

The SPA/BD Protocol has three main areas of focus:

  • The creation, protection and management of Specially Protected Areas (SPAs);
  • The establishment of a List of Specially Protected Areas of Mediterranean Importance (SPAMIs) including in national areas, in transboundary areas, and in international waters;
  • The protection and conservation of species and their habitats.

To support the implementation of the SPA/BD Protocol, SPA/RAC developed a Strategic Action Programme for the Conservation of Biological Diversity in the Mediterranean Region (SAPBIO), adopted by the Contracting Parties to the Barcelona Convention in 2003.

Ratification of the Protocol

Each of the Barcelona Convention Protocols, including the SPA/BD Protocol, is subject to ratification, acceptance, approval, or accession.

The state of ratification of the Barcelona Convention and its Protocols is presented in a table provided and updated by the MAP secretariat.

Annexes to the SPA/BD Protocol

The SPA/BD Protocol has three annexes, adopted by the Conference of Plenipotentiaries of the Barcelona Convention held in Monaco on 24 November 1996:

  • Annex I: Common criteria for the choice of protected marine and coastal areas that could be included in the SPAMI list
  • Annex II: List of endangered and threatened species - Last amendment in December 2017 
  • Annex III: List of species whose exploitation is regulated - Last amendment in December 2013 

The concerned Parties can submit a proposal for inclusion of species or their removal from Annex II or III to the SPA/BD Protocol.

The proposal should be sent at least 90 days before the meeting of SPA/RAC Focal Points. The Centre will immediately forward the proposal, in its original version, to the other Parties and to the MAP Coordinator. The proposal will be then submitted to the meeting of SPA/RAC Focal Points, which will proceed to evaluate it in the light of the Common Criteria for amending Annexes II and III of the Protocol concerning Specially Protected Areas and Biological Diversity in the Mediterranean.

The proposal accompanied by the recommendation from the SPA/RAC Focal Points meeting is finally submitted to the Contracting Parties for decision.

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