WWF: Marine protection in the Mediterranean is failing

Published on
December 3, 2019

Mediterranean countries are falling well short of their commitment to protect at least 10 percent of marine and coastal areas, and to stop biodiversity loss in the region, the environmental NGO WWF is claiming.

According to the NGO’s latest analysis, only 2.48 percent of the Mediterranean Sea is protected under marine protected areas (MPAs) with management plans. The analysis states that this “is a far cry” from the minimum target of 10 percent by 2020, set in both United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 14 and the Convention on Biological Diversity Aichi target 11.

WWF has released these findings ahead of a meeting of Mediterranean governments in Naples, Italy, taking place from 2 to 5 December, in which the governing bodies are to discuss their progress to the Barcelona Convention and agree on new post-2020 biodiversity actions. 

WWF, which itself is calling for 30 percent protection of European marine areas, said the Mediterranean is on par with the E.U. marine area as a whole, which is only 1.8 percent covered by protective management plans. Its latest assessment of E.U. MPAs found that 19 of 23 marine member states had fallen behind on developing management plans and pointed to recurring delays and failures by almost all Mediterranean countries to move from so-called “paper parks” – areas protected in name, but with little real management – to well-managed protected areas at sea.

It named Croatia, Italy, Greece, Slovenia, and Spain as examples of Mediterranean countries that have designated a considerable amount of their marine areas for protection, but where management measures are still limited to a few small areas or are inadequate to protect biodiversity.

“The recurring inaction from governments to restore and protect marine biodiversity is critically undermining our ocean’s capacity to mitigate the impact of the climate crisis and to support a sustainable blue economy,” WWF European Policy Office Marine Protection and Spatial Planning Policy Coordinator Janica Borg said. “Mediterranean member states must stand by their commitments and make effective marine biodiversity protection a top political priority. The areas intended for protection must urgently have management plans put in place, and E.U. leaders must agree to effectively protect at least 30 percent of all European marine and coastal areas by 2030.”

Photo courtesy of Peter Hermes Furian/Shutterstock

Contributing Editor reporting from London, UK

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