The need for regional cooperation in the North-East Atlantic to combat marine pollution has previously been highlighted by several relevant accidents off the coasts of Spain, Morocco, France and Portugal. The Lisbon Agreement, recently ratified (2014) by the above-mentioned countries and also by the EU, provides for cooperation in case of environmental accidents. Transboundary strategies to address marine pollution by hazardous and noxious substances (HNS) and especially oil spills have been developed in various regions under international agreements and EU R&D&I projects. However, the Atlantic sub-region covering Morocco, Madeira and the Canary Islands has not been similarly integrated. Recent oil and gas exploration and drilling activities in the area are raising awareness of potential environmental threats. Although HNS spill accidents do not occur as often as oil spills, their impacts, the variety of products and the growth in the volume transported justify the development of both regional and transboundary capacities to address both types of spills. This is particularly relevant in the area studied, as it is ecologically sensitive and socio-economically dependent on marine-maritime resources and tourism.
Building on previous EU efforts and in line with international parallel protocols (OPRC-HNS etc.), strategies and recent EU R&D&I initiatives, MARPOCS promotes a common operational framework, with state-of-the-art model-based decision support tools and exercises for HNS and oil spills, adapted to the region and supported by transboundary cooperation, implementation and training of local, regional and international authorities. This strategy will strengthen the capacity for mutual assistance and multinational preparedness and response to accidental pollution episodes in this transboundary sub-region, as planned in the Lisbon Agreement.