MPAs in the Mediterranean

© Cristina Linares

Designated MPAs cover 9.68% of the Mediterranean Sea, but effectively managed ones make up just 1.27%. Effectively conserving at least 30% of the Mediterranean Sea is crucial to maintain and restore biodiversity, which is the basis of marine ecosystems and their capacity to: 

• Mitigate the impacts of climate change

• Rebuild fish stocks 

• Ensure the future of sustainable fisheries and tourism 

• Guarantee food, livelihoods and well-being for local communities

How to protect 30% of the Mediterranean by 2030?

1. Translate existing policy and legislation into action.

2. Increase and implement biodiversity conservation targets.

3. Integrate the MPA network into a holistic ecosystem-based management system.

4. Scale-up nature-based solutions to mitigate climate change impacts.

5. Conserve key under-represented ecosystems.

6. Improve the international governance of the sea.

7. Introduce a fair and equitable transition to account for the cost of increasing conservation targets.

8. Engage stakeholders in the decision-making process.

© Cristina Linares

Several Mediterranean MPAs are already facing major biodiversity and funcional alterations due to climate change, and others are expected to be impacted in the coming decades. It is therefore an urgency to mitigate these risks and consider adaptation options in partneership with local communities, decision-makers, research bodies, socio-economic actors and civil society. 

MPAs can play an important role as ‘sentinel sites’ in the Mediterranean, where the effects of climate change can be closely monitored to develop adaptation strategies and to counteract these negative effects. Providing better management of MPAs through data collection, monitoring and awareness raising contributes to the work being done across the region to improve information and adapt to the transformation of coastal and marine ecosystems.

Risk assessment in Mediterranean MPAs

Invasive species of tropical origin are progressively expanding in the Mediterranean, which poses a new challenge for managers and policy-makers in the 21st century. 

Model projections forecasted an increased exposure of marine protected areas to ongoing invasions. Invasion risk will increase overall by 2050, especially in the southern Adriatic and to the south-west of Italy.

Adaptation of Mediterranean Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) to the invasion of tropical fish 

Legend: White dots: low risk / Orange dots: medium risk / Red stars: high risk

Size of the symbols is proportional to the number of species in the corresponding category (D’Amen and Azzurro, ICES 2020)