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COP23: Good news for marine species and climate action in the Mediterranean

WWF celebrates today’s decision by Mediterranean countries gathered at the 23rd COP of the Barcelona Convention in Portoroz (Slovenia) to increase the protection of six threatened species of sharks and rays by prohibiting their landing and put in place better conservation measures for three others.

This is a crucial step forward for the protection of these species, especially in a region that has the highest percentage of sharks and rays threatened with extinction globally. It’s also an important contribution to the achievement of the 30% protection target of the CBD Global Biodiversity Framework. 

To make this even more effective, we agree with the need to assess and mitigate the possible adverse socio-economic impacts of the decision and work with communities to support potentially required transitions, and secure incomes and livelihoods.

Alessio Satta, Director of WWF Mediterranean says:

“Today’s decision is crucial to reverse the trend of shark and ray loss in the Mediterranean. We look forward to continuing to work with all Mediterranean countries to ensure legislation translates into effective management and conservation in the field building initiatives that safeguard these vital species and preserve the ecological integrity of the Mediterranean.“

WWF also welcomes the decision to establish a Regional Activity Center for Climate Change in Türkiye aimed at increasing regional collaboration to accelerate action to address the impacts of climate change. With temperatures going up 20% faster than the global average, and sea level rises expected to exceed one meter by 2100, the Mediterranean is becoming the fastest-warming and the saltiest sea on our planet and tropicalization is well under way

“The climate crisis is a reality for all Mediterranean species, humans included. We welcome this new initiative and hope it will contribute to making our region a real laboratory of solutions towards mitigating the impact of climate change and securing a future for young generations”  concludes Satta.

WWF and other partners of the Mediterranean Blue Carbon Initiative and the Mediterranean Posidonia Network also launched a new Flagship initiative under the framework of the Barcelona Convention for the protection of the endemic Posidonia oceanica in the Mediterranean, which is critical for climate mitigation, biodiversity, coastal protection and fisheries. The initiative aims to raise at least 50 million euros by 2025 to start effectively protecting Posidonia and to catalyze the necessary major investments that will be required to achieve 100% protection by 2030.

WWF is therefore pleased to see the importance of climate change and the involvement of youth in decision-making processes being reflected in the agreed Portoroz Ministerial Declaration of COP23. We however urge Mediterranean countries and the EU to swiftly ratify the new High Seas Treaty and ensure increased protection of marine life against harmful activities in areas beyond national jurisdiction.
6 new species of sharks and rays are put under protection in the Mediterranean