Underwater banner demanding marine reserves in the Balearic Islands.
The Ecosystem Approach
We cannot preserve the overall health of the Mediterranean Sea by simply protecting one habitat within it, prohibiting one threat or minimising one activity. The Mediterranean Sea functions as a whole ecosystem so the measures to protect it must reflect and support that. This is why scientists and many experts support the application of Marine Reserves.
Marine reserves are areas closed to all extractive uses, such as fishing and mining, as well as to disposal activities and may contain core zones where no human activities are allowed.
Applying these as a network enables the protection of those areas most vulnerable to threats or most crucial for recovery whilst still permitting well managed fishing and other uses across the majority of the ocean.
Portofino Marine Protected Area, Italy.
The establishment of Marine Reserves does not remove or reduce the critical need for effective management, the lack of which has brought the Mediterranean and other parts of the global ocean to a crisis in the first place, but they do provide an immediate response to that crisis in addition to a longer-term sustainability.
Marine reserves as a tool for conservation
The aim of conservation is to maintain the diversity and abundance of life on earth. Founded on the important recognition that every form of life operates within, contributes to and is dependent upon an ecosystem. Conservation cannot be achieved by protecting one species or habitat in isolation.
Effective conservation addresses the complex interactions between species and finds solutions that support them. Marine Reserves achieve exactly this by protecting complete ecosystems and key habitats while still enabling well managed use of the oceans.
Good for everyone
Protecting the Mediterranean Sea and enabling it to regain some of its lost health and resilience carries obvious benefits for the region and wider ocean. What might be less obvious is that it also benefits the fishing industry.
Although reserves set some areas off limits to fishing they enable exploited populations to recover and allow habitats to regenerate. This increases breeding stock within protected areas and also helps to restock neighbouring fishing grounds.
In addition, Marine Reserves provide a unique opportunity to monitor species and their habitats, which is essential for future conservation and management policies.
Imagine a Mediterranean Sea abundant with life; clean, healthy and productive. Imagine Marine Reserves where your children and your children's children can see the Sea in it's full beauty and abundance - the way it is supposed to be. We can no longer accept that the Mediterranean is to be over-exploited and treated as a waste dump. It is not too late to act - and there is no excuse not to.
There is no shortage of international and regional commitments, agreements and scientific advice declaring the need for a network of Marine Reserves. What is lacking is the political will to make this a reality. This must change, and we believe that the people of the region will play a vital role in bringing this about.
The governments of the Mediterranean coastal states are ultimately responsible for the protection of the waters under their jurisdiction. For the international waters, they can and must take collective responsibility within the context of the General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean, the Barcelona Convention and the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.
Greenpeace continues to apply pressure on politicians - local, regional and international. We need the laws to make it possible for large-scale Marine Reserves to be created on the high seas of the Mediterranean. Mediterranean countries must work together in preserving our beautiful Mediterranean Sea, our shared resource, our priceless treasure.
It's Our Sea - let's protect it!
Take Action - add your voice to the global call for a network of marine reserves protecting 40 percent of the world's oceans.
Interactive Google Map showing proposed Marine Reserves in the Mediterranean
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