The Mediterranean Sea covers only 0.8% of the world’s ocean surface, but it also accounts for 7% of all marine species known. Considered a hotspot of biodiversity, almost one fourth of Mediterranean species are endemic to the region. An almost closed sea surrounded by an overpopulated coast, it is encountering serious damages due to overexploitation and pollution linked to the human presence.
Most of the Mediterranean Sea is under high sea status, which dilutes responsibilities among countries over its protection. “Marine species move from one place to another, and their effective protection implies the appropriate identification and management of their key habitats, which in many cases are even unknown, with the involvement of scientists, governments and users,” says Ameer Abdulla, IUCN Marine Conservation specialist.
Only 3.8% of the Mediterranean Sea is under some kind of protection or management. “This first study on the status of Mediterranean marine protected areas has shown the gaps in the current system and the challenges related to management capacity which urgently needs action from all sides of this Mare Nostrum,” Marina Gomei, IUCN Med Marine Programme Project officer.
Conservation of marine biodiversity needs urgent action to stop the loss of critical habitats and safe corridors for marine species. “If we don’t coordinate our work to establish a consistent and balanced network of MPAs, the efforts implemented on one side of the sea might prove useless for the protection of species and the sea biodiversity as a whole,” Catherine Piante, MedPAN Project Coordinator at WWF.