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THE BLUE RECOVERY OF THE MEDITERRANEAN

© Giorgos Rigoutsos / WWF Greece

One Sea. A shared asset of marine resources to rebuild. An opportunity for the socio-economic relaunch of the whole region.

The ecological depletion of the Mediterranean Sea reflects its climate and socio-economic vulnerability.

Dramatic biodiversity loss, struggling economies and the impact of climate change. All this happens in the same shared space of the Mediterranean.

The recovery of the Mediterranean region must be blue and sustainable. Bringing our marine resources to a healthy status has the potential to put the whole region on a path towards a renewed environmental, economic and social stability.

A healthy sea means abundant fish stocks and marine biodiversity that can create new job opportunities, starting from the fishing and tourism sectors; can help reduce the impact of climate change; can secure a home and food to the many communities living along its coasts and provide wellbeing to the many people visiting its coasts and islands. It can give young Mediterranean generations the opportunity to have a future in the region.

The Blue Recovery is made of 2 priorities: effective protection of the sea and sustainable planning and managing of all major marine economic activities.

Rebuilding depleted fish stocks is crucial to secure a future for the sea and for the many small-scale fishers and communities depending on these for their livelihood.

© Claudia Amico / WWF

PROTECT 30% OF THE SEA: REPLENISH FISH STOCKS AND MITIGATE CLIMATE CHANGE

The Mediterranean is a hotspot for the global climate and ecological crisis: it is the most overfished sea in the world, it is losing its marine biodiversity at an alarming rate and is warming at a rate that is 20% faster than the rest of the planet.

Well managed marine protected areas (MPAs) on a large scale are an effective way of reversing the degradation of the sea, restoring the value of its natural capital, and helping mitigate the impacts of climate change.

While 10% of the Mediterranean is designated for protection, in reality only 1.27% of its area is effectively protected, leaving the rest open to exploitation. This cannot go on: we need full implementation of existing policies and zero-tolerance of illegal practices.

A broad coalition of experts agrees that we must allocate at least 30% of the sea to MPAs and other effective area-based conservation measures (e.g. locally-managed marine areas, bans to operate in vulnerable marine ecosystems, fisheries restricted areas, blue corridors, bans on destructive fishing practices), to rebuild the most valuable marine resources by 2030.

A CROWDED SEA - ECONOMIC SECTORS ARE IMPACTING AND COMPETING OVER THE SAME SHARED MARINE AREAS

© WWF

BUILD A BLUE ECONOMY AROUND SUSTAINABILITY

And what about the remaining 70% of the Mediterranean? Growing maritime sectors heavily rely on natural assets or impact the Mediterranean’s most valuable marine areas, undermining the capacity of the sea to rebuild its fish stocks and marine ecosystems and regulate the climate.

But if the Mediterranean’s marine ecosystem collapses, its whole socio-economic system will fall. As the world seeks to create a different and better future in the wake of COVID-19, it’s imperative that the restart is really new and sustainable.

THE 7 MAIN ECONOMIC SECTORS IN 2020: HOW TO MAKE THEM SUSTAINABLE

WWF has analysed the current status of key sectors of the Mediterranean blue economy, and how they impact on marine species and ecosystems.

Recommendations are provided to ensure that each industry minimizes its environmental impact and puts its future on a sustainable footing.