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This week, the Maltese town of St-Julian’s is transforming into a ‘hotspot’ of scientific discussion on how to improve the incomplete network of Natura 2000 marine protected areas (MPAs). The European Commission, together with scientific experts and NGOs, will critically assess the efforts made by each Member State to protect Europe’s most valuable yet threatened marine species and habitats by designating areas to be protected under Natura 2000.

As we leave the Mediterranean Sea at the end of the summer, we look at the rapid changes wrought on its biota. Our favorite seaside may be undergoing major upheaval by the time we return. A recent spate of records of lionfish from Israel, Lebanon, Cyprus Turkey, Greece and Tunisia serves as clear evidence of a major population explosion. 

One of the priorities of the European Union (EU)’s reformed Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) is to ensure sustainable fisheries both in European waters and on a global scale. The EU has in the past decade introduced new, tighter laws to achieve legal and sustainable world fisheries at a time of mounting threats to marine biodiversity and food security.

It all started in 2008 when OSPAR, the international Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the North-East Atlantic, adopted its list of threatened species and habitats. This list, essential to identify key marine species in need of conservation measures, was the starting point of active conservation policies for restoring marine biodiversity in the region.