Why and where to protect 30% of the Mediterranean Sea to recover vital biodiversity and fisheries, new study reveals | WWF

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Why and where to protect 30% of the Mediterranean Sea to recover vital biodiversity and fisheries, new study reveals

New scientific study on the Mediterranean: by 2030 we should protect 30% of key areas of the sea!

Mediterranean fish stocks, including the most commercially valuable hakes, could strongly recover if 30% of the sea is effectively protected. Today, less than 10% of the Mediterranean Sea has been designated for protection, of which only 1.27% is effectively protected.

“Based on scientific evidence, we can conclude that the protection of key areas in the sea is an effective way to stop the significant loss of species and habitats and guarantee the restoration of the abundance of many species of marine organisms. Currently, one of the best examples of effective protection of the maritime area in the Mediterranean is the ban on fishing in the Jabuka Pit, which has contributed to the recovery of many commercially important species such as hake and shrimp," said Danijel Kanski, Marine Program Manager at WWF Adria.

WWF’s new report “30 by 30: Scenarios to recover biodiversity and recover fish stocks in the Mediterranean”, is the first to provide conservation scenarios for the Mediterranean Sea, analyzing the extent of the benefits that halting unsustainable fishing and other damaging activities from selected areas would bring to marine biodiversity and fish populations. The study was conducted in collaboration with scientists from the French CNRS-CRIOBE, the Ecopath International Initiative, and the Spanish ICM–CSIC.

The scientific analysis is clear about the fact that fish stocks would continue declining in the next years in the Mediterranean if unsustainable fishing and other industrial activities that are negatively affecting marine ecosystems were continued. On the other side, the report confirms that with effective protection in specific areas covering 30% of the Mediterranean Sea and sustainably managed activities in the rest of the basin these same commercial fish stocks would increase and the whole marine ecosystem would significantly recover, benefitting the millions of people who depend on it as well.

"In the case of Jabuka Pit, the result of ecosystem stabilization is visible in significantly increased fishing catches in the areas around the protected zone, which is the basis of economic stability for people who live from fishing. In order to achieve effective and comprehensive protection at the regional Mediterranean level, it is necessary to replicate such examples up to the level of the total protection area of 30% ", concludes Kanski.

More than 50 countries are already calling for a commitment to protect 30% of the planet by 2030. This same commitment, which for WWF must include a rights-based approach to conservation, should be then transposed by Mediterranean countries in the regional biodiversity framework to be adopted in December at COP22 of the Barcelona Convention. To this end, WWF calls on all Mediterranean governments to swiftly develop more ambitious regional and national plans of action to deliver an effective protection of the Mediterranean Sea.

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