Marine Reserves in the Mediterranean now, or it'll be too late, says new

Press release - 15 June, 2006
Marine life in the Mediterranean is in danger of being wiped out unless 40% of the sea is protected by reserves, says a new Greenpeace report. The report, "Marine Reserves for the Mediterranean Sea" highlights the threats facing the Mediterranean and maps out in detail a proposed network of marine reserves to be implemented by 2012. (1)

Underwater banner reading "Marine Reserves Now!" next to octopus in Menorca, Spain. Greenpeace is calling for a global network of marine reserves covering 40% of the Mediterrenean Sea.

"The Mediterranean, while only representing 1% of the world's seas, is a biodiversity and commercial hotspot -home to 9% of the world's marine life (2), 30% of the world's shipping trade (3) and the world's most popular tourist region," said Alessandro Gianni of Greenpeace Italy aboard the organisation's flagship the Rainbow Warrior. (4) "It is also home to some of the worst excesses of both overfishing and illegal fishing in the world. Something has to give. Unless immediate action is taken now to protect the sea's beauty and abundance, the livelihoods of millions of people in the region who depend on it will fast become a thing of the past."

The report, "Marine Reserves for the Mediterranean Sea" concludes that:

- overfishing of species such as the bluefin tuna is rampant, leading to a decline of 80% in stocks; - banned fishing practices like driftnetting are still being carried out on a massive scale, not only wiping out commercial fish stocks but at the same time killing species like dolphins and whales; - pollution from tourism, overdevelopment and commercial trade are major threats to the Mediterranean.

"A global network of marine reserves is vital to ensure the health of our oceans and survival of the spectacular marine life they harbour," said Callum Roberts, Professor of Marine Conservation Biology at the University of York. "Greenpeace's proposal for a network in the Mediterranean would help ensure the recovery of depleted and degraded ecosystems there and complements our proposal for a high seas network." (5)

Greenpeace is calling on the countries of the Mediterranean to protect their own sea with a network of marine reserves and live up to their political commitments (6).

"The implementation of marine reserves elsewhere around the world (7) has produced win-win outcomes," said Karli Thomas of Greenpeace International "The number of species increases, populations regenerate and with proper and legally enforced management of the fish stocks outside the reserves, both commercial and conservation interests can be met," she concluded.

The Rainbow Warrior is in Genoa on the first stop of its 3 month "Defending Our Mediterranean" tour of Italy, Greece, Turkey, Lebanon, Israel, France and Spain. Last week the Rainbow Warrior briefly met the Greenpeace ship Esperanza, also in the Mediterranean Sea on the 4th leg of its 14 month Defending Our Oceans Expedition, the most ambitious ever undertaken by the organisation (8).

Greenpeace is an independent campaigning organisation that uses non-violent creative confrontation to expose global environmental problems to drive solutions that are essential to a green and peaceful future.

Other contacts: Alessandro Gianni, Oceans Campaigner, Greenpeace Italy, +39 340 800 9534 Karli Thomas, Oceans Campaigner, Greenpeace International,+31 646 055 298 Michael Kessler, Greenpeace International Communications, +34 660 637 053Gabriele Salari, Media Officer, Greenpeace Italy, + 39 348 398 8615 Callum Robert, Professor of Marine Conservation Biology at the University of York, +44 1904 434066 and +44 1904 658239

VVPR info: Greenpeace International Picture Desk: Franca Michienzi tel. + 31 20 7182054 ; mob +31 6 53819255 Greenpeace International Video Desk: Maarten van Rouveroy +47 514 079 86

Notes: 1. Full report available at Executive Summary available at 2. Zenetos, A., Siokou-Frangou, I., Gotsis-Skretas, O. and Groom, S. 2002. The Mediterranean Sea-blue oxygen-rich, nutrient-poor waters. In Europe's Biodiversity - biogeographical regions and seas. European Environment Agency 3. MAP and REMPEC. 1996. An Overview of Maritime Transport in the Mediterranean. Athens, United Nations Environment Programme 4. Approximately 220 million visitors each year (representing around 30% of total global tourist receipts) and expected to rise to 350 million by 2025. United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) 5. See the Global Roadmap to Recovery report at: 6. Mediterranean countries agreed both at the World Summit on Sustainable Development (2002) and at the Convention on Biological Diversity (2004) to commit to establish a network of Marine Protected Areas by 2012. 7. In 2004 Australia declared 34% of the Great Barrier Reef as strictly-protected marine reserve. It has also been shown in areas as far apart as the Philippines, St Lucia and the Canary Islands that establishing strictly protected marine reserves can actually enhance fisheries beyond their boundaries. 8. The expedition has so far exposed the threats to the oceans such as whaling in the Southern Ocean and pirate fishing in West Africa, and documented the beauty of deep sea habitats around the Azores. In the Mediterranean, Greenpeace will set out to document the region's beauty, highlight the devastating impacts of overfishing on the survival of species like the bluefin tuna and propose a global network of properly enforced marine reserves covering 40% of the world's oceans.

Exp. contact date: 2006-07-09 00:00:00