The current “blue growth” trend in the Mediterranean Sea is accelerating at a pace of near unsustainability and there is an urgent need for an integrated ocean management approach throughout the whole basin, to ensure the conservation of its unique marine environment. Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) are specifically established to protect marine ecosystems, processes, habitats, and species, which also contribute to the restoration and replenishment of resources for social, economic, and cultural enrichment. Despite the status of MPAs to safeguard the environment, many economic sectors function within or nearby these protected areas. The Blue Growth Push and the implementation of the Maritime Spatial Planning Directive will have to take into account the needs of these areas and their future expansion, as foreseen by the commitments stemming from the Convention on Biological Diversity and Habitats Directive.

Numerous EU projects, and other initiatives, have published results and recommendations regarding MPAs and their interactions with economic sectors, yet an integrated approach for the Mediterranean is absent. The PHAROS4MPAs project seeks to capitalise on existing results, and ultimately deliver an integrated framework for recommendations on the necessary practical collaboration between Mediterranean MPAs and the maritime sectors. The anticipated result of the project is to enhance the management effectiveness and networking for Mediterranean MPAs. Consequently, this will contribute to the successful conservation of marine biodiversity and natural ecosystems.

The capitalisation project is led by WWF-France, with the partnership of eight organisations/institutions/agencies * from six countries and nine associate partners**. PHAROS4MPAs will span for 18 months, from February 2017 to July 2019. Backing for the project comes from Interreg Med, a programme funded by the European Regional Development Fund. The first steering committee of the project took place in Rome, Italy, on 27 and 28 March 2018.

Call to MPA managers: Has your MPA been affected by shipping vessels? aquaculture? fishing? or any marine/maritime sectors? Now is your chance for your voice to be heard! We would like to learn (from you) and build analyses and recommendations based on issues encountered in real life. Your knowledge will become useful for fellow and future MPA managers!  Send an email to Catherine Piante cpiante@wwf.fr telling us your experience and your questions. Or if you don’t have time to write, contact her on Skype catherinepiantewwf.

 

*Partners: WWF France, PAP/RAC, Regional Development Funds for North Aegean Region, AKZM in Albania, Institute of the Republic of Slovenia for Nature Conservation, CNR in Italy, WWF Mediterranean, Girona University in Spain)

**Associated partners: MedPAN, WWF Spain, France Energie Eolienne, REMPEC, SPA/RAC, European Boating Industry, WWF Greece, Agence Française pour la Biodiversité, CPMR.