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 sea, covering the waters of the Northeast Atlantic.


Thus in 1990 the Portuguese government made a proposal to the European Commission that it signed an agreement for the protection of the Northeast Atlantic’s coasts and waters.


On 17 October, 1990, Portugal, France, Morocco, Spain and the European Community have signed the Lisbon Agreement. On 20 May, 2008, an Additional Protocol was signed that modified the southern limit.


The Lisbon Agreement is essentially a mechanism to ensure cooperation between the Contracting Parties in the case of giving a pollution incident. The Agreement establish the obligation to the Contracting Parties to create their own intervention agencies 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 instruments of ratification.


To contribute to develop and establish a set directives on the practical, operational and technical aspects on a joint action against pollution of the marine environment by hydrocarbons and other harmful substances in the area covered by the Agreement, or outside, if appropriate.


To Strength the capacity for mutual assistance and to facilitate the cooperation between the Contracting Parties of the Agreement in the combat to the  marine pollution by hydrocarbons and other harmful substances, particularly in cases of urgency, when the danger to the marine environment is considered serious.


To assist the Contracting Parties in order to install and equip pollution combat Centers able to act quickly and effectively in case of giving a pollution incident, according to the established and trained in advance plans.


To provide assistance to the Contracting Parties, when such help is need, to establish a way of acting quickly and effectively on combating pollution caused by hydrocarbons and other harmful substances.


To create communication and operation technical means to facilitate information exchange, technical cooperation and training between the Contracting Parties.


To contribute, if requested by the Contracting Parties, to equip the wharfs for loading and unloading of hydrocarbons, as well as repair ports, located at the coasts on the geographical scope of the Agreement, with its own facilities for the reception and treatment of ballast water and water for cleaning tanks of vessels.


Similarly, and if requested by the Contracting Parties, CILPAN should cooperate to equip the ports with reception facilities to clean own mixtures of hydrocarbons and other wastes from ships. These facilities should have sufficient capacity to meet the needs of the vessels, without causing them delays.


To sensitize the Contracting in ensuring the compliance with the other International Conventions in the area of pollution of the marine environment.


The legal framework of the Lisbon Agreement is constituted by the Agreement itself and by the Additional Protocol that must be interpreted and applied together as a single instrument.

Legal Framework

Contracting Parties

Geographic Scope

The geographical scope of this Agreement consists of the Northeast Atlantic Ocean region, defined by the outer limit of the Exclusive Economic Zones of each of the Contracting States and also by the limits in other regional agreements neighbours (the Bonn Agreement and the Barcelona Convention).


North: Until the north of France (Island of Ouessant – Bonn Agreement’s south limit).


South: Southern limit of the waters covered by the sovereignty or jurisdiction of any of the Contracting Parties.


West: Western limit of the EEZ of the Azores, Madeira and the Canary Islands.


East: Western limit (Strait of Gibraltar) of the Convention for the protection of the Mediterranean Sea against pollution (Barcelona Convention).



The Lisbon Agreement sets the implementation of the International Action Centre for Pollution Incidents Response in the north-east Atlantic (CILPAN - Portuguese/French Acronym), in Lisbon with the aim of assisting those States which are Parties to react swiftly and effectively to pollution incidents.

An International Centre shall be set up on the following guidelines for defining the functions of the International Action Centre;


1.Establishing close working relationships with other national and international centres in the region covered by the Agreement and, where necessary, outside that region.

2.On the basis of the above principle and using all existing powers in the region, coordinating national and regional action with regard to training, technical cooperation and expertise in cases of emergency.

3.Collecting and disseminating information on pollution incidents (inventories, expert opinions, reports on incidents, technical progress for improving action plans, etc.).

4.Preparing systems for transmitting information, in particular to be exchanged in cases of emergency.

5.Place for exchanges of information on techniques for monitoring marine pollution.

6.Role of the Centre in cases of emergency.

7.Secretariat for this Agreement.

8.Management of that part of the Portuguese stock which may be made available to other Parties in other States outside the region. Also, where appropriate, coordination of the management of other similar national stocks (in particular, this function could be envisaged in the case of additional stocks for which there has been a Community or international financial contribution).


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