Over the last few decades, pressure on the Mediterranean marine environment has increased at an unprecedented rate: over-exploitation of resources, habitat destruction, pollution and the increasing impacts of climate change. The introduction of invasive alien species has further enhance these impacts, putting at risk the marine ecosystem and, therefore, our subsistence.
To combat this situation, is necessary a better linkage between politics and science, as well as increase awareness and the participation of all those stakeholders involved in coastal and marine activities. With the support of Mediterranean Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) managers and their secretariat (MedPAN), as well as experts and volunteers from different countries, IUCN implements the Strategy for Marine Alien Invasive Species in Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) as a powerful tool in this fight.
The Strategy is aligned with the CBD Guiding principles to prevent or minimise IAS impacts to biodiversity. It further aims to assist the Action Plan concerning Species Introductions and Invasive Species as part of the Protocol concerning Specially Protected Areas and Biological Diversity of the Barcelona Convention and the European Strategy on Alien Invasive Species as well as other policy instruments. It also brings together a series of key actions to achieve the common goals at the IUCN World Conservation Congress 2016 (“Honolulu Challenge. Bold action on invasive alien species.” Hawaii), serving at the time as direct support to the management of protected areas, including the Natura 2000 Network.
The overall aim of the Strategy for Marine Alien Invasive Species in MPAs and MedMIS initiative is “To establish a common framework for the Mediterranean MPAs to develop action on marinea invasive species”. The key actions thus lay the groundwork for cooperative activities between MPAs and their associated partners as well as within local MPAs themselves, to reduce the impacts of IAS and preventing, if possible, their further introduction and spreading.
By taking MPAs as a reference, MedMIS works as an “alert system”, facilitates the reporting of suspected invasive species with the identification by experts, updating them in a long-term centralized database and process the information received in order to carry out the necessary actions, avoiding the settlement, expansion and potential impact of these species in the MPAs.
- Build awareness and capacity building.
- Prevent and reduce the introduction of invasive marine species or mitigate their impact, where possible, in MPAs and their surroundings.
- Promote active participation (diving clubs, fishermen, research centers, universities, etc.) to implement management plans for priority IAS species.
- Generate knowledge on invasive marine species and the biological, economic and social importance in the Mediterranean.
- Provide a long-term centralized database on marine alien species to support and joint efforts at national and international level.
Role of IUCN-Med
Since 2010, the Mediterranean Cooperation Center (IUCN-Med) has been coordinating, with the collaboration of experts, MPA managers and other initiatives, the implementation of the Strategy on invasive alien species and the MedMIS initiative.
IUCN-Med works in all the objectives mentioned above, synthetizing the information, networking, communicating to society and organising practical workshops and seminars aimed at different groups to enhance capacity and awareness.
The MedMIS platform is led by IUCN-Med and involves various organizations and initiatives such as the Réseau Alien Corse, Society for the Protection of Aquatic Ecosystem (iSea), Med Obs-sub Iniciative, MedPAN, and the Invasive Species Specialist Group (ISSG) of the Species Survival Commision (SSC).
This initiative was launched in 2010 under the Mediterranean Program of the European Regional Development Fund and actually has the financial support of the MAVA Foundation.