In the Mediterranean, marine protected areas are not enough

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A tiny part of the Mediterranean Sea enjoys real protection, the vast majority of existing marine protected areas (MPAs) having too weak restrictions, according to a study published on Friday 24 April.

A team of researchers from the CNRS and the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences have examined 1,062 MPAs identified in the Mediterranean. Conclusion: these cover 6.01% of the sea surface, far from the target of 10% of marine and coastal areas in MPA for 2020 adopted in 2010 by the Convention on Biological Diversity (Aichi targets).

95% of protected areas do not impose regulations

Beyond the MPA classification alone, the researchers evaluated these zones on a scale of five levels of protection, based on the protection rules imposed in each area, which allows deduce the effectiveness of MPAs, explains Joachim Claudet of the CNRS, who directed the work. As a result, 95% (in surface area, 72.6% in number of MPAs) in fact impose no more regulation of human activities than in neighboring unprotected areas.

And the “high” and “complete” levels of protection, the most effective for preserving biodiversity, represent only 0.23% of the basin, said the study, published in Cell Earth’s One Earth journal.

If what can have an impact on biodiversity is not prohibited, it is unlikely that (the MPAs concerned) will be effective, sums up Joachim Claudet. Especially since researchers say they don’t know how they are respected in the facts, for example there is still often poaching.

Better protected European waters

The study also notes that the different geopolitical areas of the sea do not benefit from the same protections, MPAs being overwhelmingly concentrated in the waters of European Union countries: 97% of MPAs, 80% of those offering a level full and 63% level Student.

The western Mediterranean is the most protected, followed by the Adriatic and the Alboran Sea (between southern Spain and Morocco), the Aegean and Ionian Seas, the Levant Sea and the Tunisian plateau closing the march.

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