France has significantly boosted progress towards improved protection of the marine environment. President Sarkozy speaking recently in Le Havre announced the creation of marine protected areas (MPAs) covering 20% of the country’s Exclusive Economic Zone.
Dan Laffoley, Marine Vice Chair of IUCN’s World Commission on Protected Areas, in welcoming the announcement said ‘The President has set an ambitious target that half of the new MPAs should be no-take and is committing France to becoming a new world leader in marine conservation.’ ‘This is particularly impressive as France has the second largest maritime territory in the world behind the United States – some 11 million square kilometers’ he added.
The heart of this process is a ‘blue book’ which will define the French maritime strategy (“Grenelle de la Mer”) and which will be in place by the end of 2009.
In making the announcement President Sarkozy stated ‘Today France protects less than 1% of its maritime space. By 2012 marine protected areas will cover 10% of the territory. By 2020, these marine protected areas will reach 20% of the 11 million square kilometres of sea under the sovereignty of France. And I expect that half of that scope should be established as reserves and no-take zones to be defined with fishermen, scientists and local stakeholders. It is in these places that marine biodiversity will be preserved, and that marine resources will be able to recover, allowing to sustain fishing in our country in the future.’
‘This network of protection, covering some 2 million square kilometres, will extend both along its coast metropolis especially in the Mediterranean, and throughout the French overseas territories: the Antilles, New Caledonia, Polynesia and the Indian Ocean.’ The President added.
Full text of President Sarkozy’s speech can be accessed at:
English version at: