Mediterranean countries need to protect an area the size of Ireland by 2020

Press Release Date: December 2, 2016

Location: Madrid


Marta Madina | email: | tel.: Marta Madina

So far only 7% of the Mediterranean has been protected and deep-sea ecosystems have almost no protection.

Tangier, Morocco – An area the size of the Republic of Ireland (71,840 km2) still needs to be protected in the Mediterranean, Oceana warns, if countries are to fulfil their international obligation to protect 10% of coastal and marine areas by 2020. The alert follows data released at the 2016 Forum of Marine Protected Areas in the Mediterranean, which urged Mediterranean countries to speed up the designation of marine protected areas (MPAs).ç

“The Mediterranean Sea suffers a barrage of attacks on its habitats and an alarming rate of over-exploitation of its fishery resources. The scientific data for a better and healthier Mediterranean are already there, but what is missing is the recipe’s main ingredient: political will, said Lasse Gustavsson, executive director of Oceana in Europe.

The 7.1% of MPA coverage announced at this year’s Forum is an increase on the 4.6% figure from 2012. The remaining 2.9% lacking protection must be protected by 2020 as agreed under the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity. The current rate at which MPAs are being designated is too slow to curb the irrevocable loss of threatened and sensitive habitats, while deep-sea ecosystems are almost entirely lacking safety from fishing impacts.

The current network of MPAs is also too weak in the level of protection it affords. Only 0.04% of MPAs are under strictly protected “no-take” zones, where all kinds of fishing and human activity are prohibited. Stakeholders at the Forum agreed on a target of just 2%, which is still far from being sufficient to help threatened habitats and to recover key fish stocks in the Mediterranean.

To ensure Mediterranean countries meet their international environmental obligations by 2020, Oceana proposes:

  • To adhere to international scientific advice from the IUCN to extend the minimum protection to 30% by 2030;
  • To accelerate the protection of offshore areas and vulnerable marine ecosystems;
  • To create a network of permanent restricted fishing zones in order to recover fish stocks through the protection of areas that are important for spawning and for young fish. This should also include extending the existing ban on trawling to areas up to 100 metres deep, in order to safeguard sensitive habitats such as coralligenous and maerl seabeds, seagrass meadows, and to promote preferential access to lower-impact fisheries.


More information: Oceana MedNet