MedPAN and SPA-RAC have conducted in 2016 an assessment of where we stand with Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) and Other Effective area-based Conservation Measures (OECMs) in the Mediterranean. Download the report: 2016 Status of MPAs in the Mediterranean or the brochure and the poster that present the main findings.

MPA figures provided in this document come from the 2017 release of MAPAMED, the database on Sites of interest for the conservation of the marine environment in the Mediterranean Sea, developed by MedPAN and UNEP/MAP-RAC/SPA. The core data found in MAPAMED has been validated by RAC/SPA national focal points.

Erratum: the 2016 status data has been corrected (MAPAMED 2017 version) following the identification of errors in the 2016 dataset (MAPAMED 2016 version). These corrections concern the surface and number values of MPAs previously indicated in the 2016 brochure and poster.The data below are the updated data.

The 2012 MPA Status is also available.

Main findings of the 2016 Mediterranean MPA status

MPA coverage is making progress in the Mediterranean

  • There are 1,215 MPAs and OECMs in the Mediterranean covering 171,362 km2 which places a surface of 6.81% under a legal designation.
  • These sites present a great variety of conservation designations. Please note that the brochure includes a special section that highlights the complexity of the 54 different MPA and OECM designations in the Mediterranean.
  • National designations account for only 1.27% and no-go, no-take or no-fishing zones for 0.04%.
  • For the majority of sites, little is known about the management measures in place and if they are effective at maintaining or restoring the biodiversity they aim to protect.

MPAs and OECMs are largely coastal and European

  • Over 72.77% of the surface covered is located in the Western Mediterranean, 90.05% of the total surface covered by MPAs and OECMs are found in EU waters.
  • 9.79% of European waters are coveredd mostly due to the Natura 2000 at sea network which rarely affords strict restrictive measures.

MPAs and OECMs mostly cover shallow waters

MPAs and OECMs include an encouraging coverage of 2 sensitive habitats

  • 39.77% of Posidonia meadows (EUNIS1 A5.535 class) and 32.78% of Mediterranean corraligenous communities (EUNIS A4.26 ou A4.32 classes) are covered.
  • These results are encouraging butFiner scale research is needed to assess the conservation benefits of these figures.

MPAs within EBSAs

  • 15 Mediterranean Ecologically or Biologically Significant Marine Areas (EBSAs) were described jointly by the CBD and UNEP/MAP, to identify zones where appropriate conservation measures and sustainable use practices should be adopted by the countries. Of these 15 EBSAs, the ones best covered by nationally designated MPAs are the North Western Mediterranean Benthic Ecosystem, the Akamas and Chrysochou Bay and the North Aegean, while the highest coverage by Natura 2000 sites occurs in the Akamas and Chrysochou Bay, and in the North Western Mediterranean Benthic Ecosystem.

Of age, size and adequacy…

  • Age and size can play a role in the effectiveness of MPAs and OECMs.
  • 65.05% of MPAs of national designations have a marine surface of less than 50 km2 (77.17% of all MPAs and OECMs), 69 nationally designated sites have a marine area smaller than 10 km2 and 46 are larger than 100 km2.
  • 78% of nationally designated MPAs are over 10 years old, which is considered the minimum age for an MPA to reach a certain maturity (even though the time required for an MPA to be effective varies greatly from one area to another) and 46 sites are over 20 years old.
  • As for all MPAs and OECMs, 48% are older than 10 years old, which shows that regional designations are generally newer than national ones.
  • Of the 76 national designations that contain at least one no-go, no-take or no-fishing zone, regardless of whether they are enforced, 86.84% have been designated over 10 years ago. For many of these that have been studied, a whole range of benefits have been demonstrated.