Defending Our Mediterranean

The Mediterranean Sea plays an important part in the wider oceans system, which supports life on Earth. Its warm, highly saline waters provide spawning grounds for many species and carry a unique signature of nutrients and plankton, which can be detected many thousands of kilometers out into the Atlantic Ocean and beyond. The Sea is also a major oceanic highway for the great migratory fish such as bluefin tuna and home to endangered species such as monk seals, green and leatherback turtles.

It is a small but important part of our planet's oceanic system.Bordered by 19 countries and 46,000 km of coastline, its resources support millions of people.

Almost completely enclosed, it takes up to 100 years for the Sea to completely renew its waters, which are rich in nutrients with a high salt content. Although only small - accounting for less that one percent of the total marine environment - the Mediterranean Sea is home to a large number of species unique to the area and economically important fish stocks. It provides both warm and cold-water habitats, plunging to depths of 5000 meters in some places and has supported human civilization for millennia.

Paradise Lost?

But this beautiful and valuable ecosystem is under siege. Because it is comparatively small, virtually enclosed and slow to renew its waters, it is highly vulnerable to over-exploitation. As with most other parts of the planet's oceanic system, this region is under sustained pressure from a variety of threats. Amongst these are: overfishing, drift netting, aquaculture along with other threats like climate change, invasive species, pollution, shipping, tourism and the increase in human populations.

Coris Julis over a Zostera

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The Mediterranean Sea is part of the wider ocean system, which provides services to the planet and humankind including the production of over half our oxygen, the creation and distribution of weather systems and the transfer of nutrients and energy currents around the world - vital functions that maintain the overall health of our planet.

To this day, people continue to rely on the Mediterranean Sea for its biological resources, transport links between the continents and its oil and gas reserves. So much so, that the combined pressures are pushing the Sea to the brink of collapse.

Marine Reserves needed NOW!

Barely one percent of the Mediterranean Sea is fully protected - a far cry from the 20 to 50 percent recommended by scientists. There is a serious risk that the Mediterranean will be exploited beyond its natural ability to replenish and recover, affecting its health and productivity for future generations - not just within the immediate region, but far beyond. In order to avoid this - the Mediterranean is desperately in need of protection through the establishment of Marine Reserves.

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