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Home to 8,500 macroscopic species, representing between 4% and 18 % of marine species worldwide, the Pelagos Sanctuary is the first transboundary MPA established to protect cetaceans from the combined pressures of natural environmental fluctuations and human impacts.
The exponential and uncontrolled development of the Blue Economy in the Mediterranean is weakening the fragile balance of the Pelagos Sanctuary and its 87,500km2 territory that goes beyond the coastal zone of France, Italy and the Principality of Monaco. With 25% of the world's maritime traffic concentrated in the Mediterranean Sea, the risk of vessels colliding with large cetaceans is of great concern.
Among the twelve species of cetaceans present in the Pelagos Sanctuary, the sperm whale and common dolphin are listed as Endangered on the IUCN Red List while the bottlenose dolphin, the striped dolphin and the fin whale are listed as Vulnerable.
While France, Italy and the Principality of Monaco share the governance of Pelagos, the Sanctuary has suffered from a lack of coordination between these countries, with few activities contributing to the protection of cetaceans. Pelagos could become a significant example of an efficient high sea MPA within the Mediterranean Sea, but greater investment is necessary to secure the commitment of these three countries to work jointly on the management of the Sanctuary.
WWF has been involved in the establishment, development and governance of the Pelagos Sanctuary since its creation.
We have been conducting research on cetaceans over the past 10 years. This research has mainly focused on identifying the populations of cetaceans that are resident in the Sanctuary – or that spend part of their time within its borders – and in assessing human impacts that may affect them: primarily pollution and ship strikes.
WWF has been behind the use of vessel on-board technology to record and monitor the position of whales as to limits the risk of collision.
Strong and effective governance for the Sanctuary as well as for other adjacent ecological areas as well as the active participation of stakeholders in the implementation of the management plan.
Effective and science-based measures for the protection of cetaceans, specifically on the management of vessel traffic to limit collisions with cetaceans.
Adoption of the High Quality Whale-Watching® label for all operators and municipalities operating within the Sanctuary to guarantee a respectful and responsible observation of whales and dolphins.