Blue Economy and Marine Conservation: Safeguarding Mediterranean MPAs in order to achieve Good Environmental Status

On one side, the current trend of “blue growth” in the Mediterranean Sea is accelerating at a pace of near unsustainability. On the other side, marine protected areas (MPAs), specifically established to protect marine ecosystems, processes, habitats and species represent today 7.14% of the Mediterranean basin where the objective set by the CBD is 10%.

Despite the status of MPAs to safeguard the environment, many economic sectors function within or near these protected areas.
The current EU Blue Growth strategy means that MPAs face more and more overlaps and increased requests for economic development within or near their limits, with greater pressure and impact on the marine environment. At the same time, the Marine Strategy Framework Directive requires to reach Good Environmental Status of the European Seas by 2020.

The PHAROS4MPAs project explores how Mediterranean MPAs are affected by activities in the growing Blue Economy, and provides a set of practical recommendations for regional stakeholders on how the environmental impacts of key sectors can be prevented or minimized. Encouraging international collaboration across MPA networks and cooperation between state, industry and other actors, PHAROS4MPAs aims to enhance MPA management effectiveness and improve the conservation of marine ecosystems across the whole of the Mediterranean.

PHAROS4MPAs focuses on the following sectors of the Blue Economy:

  • Maritime transport and industrial ports
  • Cruise
  • Tour boats
  • Leisure boating
  • Offshore wind farms
  • Aquaculture
  • Recreational fisheries
  • Scuba diving
  • Small-scale fisheries

The approach of this project is it to put all parties on an equal foot - from MPA managers, to MSP authorities and business sectors representatives - and create the conditions for a sustainable blue economy and a healthy marine environment in and around MPAs.

Outcomes include delivering common capitalization baselines, recommendations and policy tools adapted to appropriation by the MedPAN network, MSP authorities, the European Commission, the Barcelona Convention and the various maritime sectors.

The project, which runs for 18 months from February 2018 to July 2019, is co-funded by Interreg Med, a program funded by the European Regional Development Fund.


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