Abstract The Mediterranean Sea is surrounded by 22 coastal States, making it one of the world’s most international bodies of water. It is also the habitat for over 10,000 species of fish and other marine life, many of which are in danger of extinction due to significant levels of pollution. By concluding the Barcelona Convention in 1976, coastal States and the European Union sought to reduce marine pollution in the Mediterranean Sea. The Barcelona Convention with its protocols became a first example of a binding regional legal framework in the history of marine protection and pollution prevention. In 1995, the Barcelona Convention was amended in order to align its provisions with the objective of sustainable development. The existing protocols to the Barcelona Convention have been amended and new protocols concluded since with a view to addressing particular forms and causes of pollution in the Mediterranean Sea.