WWF Mediterranean Initiative bulletin: Issue 1 / Dec 2013

A school of Atlantic bluefin tuna (Thunnus thynnus) during their migration in the Mediterranean Sea.
© B. J. Skerry / National Geographic Stock / WWF

Good news for bluefin tuna

“WWF congratulates ICCAT member countries for sticking to science again this year regarding bluefin tuna quotas in the East Atlantic and Mediterranean” said Dr Sergi Tudela, Head of Fisheries at WWF Mediterranean at the close of the 23rd regular annual meeting of the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas. In 2012, after years of mismanagement, ICCAT followed scientific recommendations and set an annual quota at 13,400 tonnes. This year, despite proposals and pressure from several countries to increase the quota, WWF is satisfied with ICCAT’s maintenance of the annual quota for bluefin tuna, and looks to 2014 – expected to be a crucial year for bluefin tuna, with an update of the scientific assessment on ICCAT’s agenda. Read more.
 / ©: Z. Dedej /WWF Mediterranean
© Z. Dedej /WWF Mediterranean

What is the only place in the world where 3 continents meet?

Midway between the tropics and the Arctic is the largest enclosed sea in the world, surrounded by mountains and dotted with thousands of islands. This complex region of breathtaking natural beauty and inestimably valuable cultural heritage encompasses 25 countries and territories from Europe, Africa and the Middle East. It is one of the most populated regions of the globe and is a meeting point between developed and developing worlds.

Tuna facts and figures

How big? The largest recorded was a massive 679kg – that’s heavier than a horse!
How fast? When chasing their prey or avoiding a hungry shark they accelarate faster than a Porsche and can reach speeds of 100 km per hour!
How far? Atlantic bluefin tuna can complete trans-Atlantic crossings in less than 60 days. They can dive down to around 1km to find food.
How old? Atlantic bluefin tuna can expect to live for at least 15 years and as long as 30.

Pantelleria threatened by fossil fuel extraction

 / ©: Rampini/ WWF-Italy
A view of Pantelleria, Sicily, Italy.
© Rampini/ WWF-Italy
WWF is calling on governments and companies to stop the expansion of oil drilling activities in the Sicilian Channel, especially around Pantelleria – the only island there that is not an MPA. The Mediterranean is a closed sea – any damage it sustains would affect all whose coasts lie within it. Read more.

100,000km2 added to Spain’s MPA network

 / ©: WWF / Erling Svensen
Bottom trawling is very damaging to fragile deep-sea habitats.
© WWF / Erling Svensen
More than 100,000km2 of marine protected areas are to be added to Spain’s MPA network, increasing the area of Spanish seas protected from 0.4% to 8%. Four new large marine areas and 39 marine SPAs will be added to the Natura 2000 Network. In 2014 another six large offshore marine areas should be established. The choice of these areas was based on a proposal by WWF Spain. Read more.

A public voice for fishermen in North Africa

 / ©: WWF Mediterranean
Fishermen in Tunisia.
© WWF Mediterranean
Fishermen are empowered and united by the recently created platform of artisanal fishermen in North Africa. Launched in Tunisia, the platform provides both a public voice for this crucial sector of Mediterranean fisheries and a forum in which to agree on common principles for sustainable fisheries management in the Mediterranean.

Profile: marine scientist to conservation leader

 / ©: WWF / V. Burgener
Demetres launching the Initiative at the 3rd edition of the International Marine Protected Areas Congress (IMPAC 3) in Marseilles in October 2013, during an event dedicated to advancing marine conservation in the Mediterranean.
© WWF / V. Burgener
Demetres Karavellas is CEO of WWF Greece and, since October, the interim Mediterranean Initiative Leader. He heads a team of 20 marine staff across 7 Mediterranean countries, and reports to the Mediterranean Shareholder Group. His thoughts on the Mediterranean Initiative and its immediate priorities:
Can you describe the Mediterranean Inititative in 3 words?
Collaboratve, coordinated and transformative. The effort of all the WWF offices in the region and their many partners is to work together to develop real solutions on the ground, to build alliances and mobilize societies that will support a more sustainable future for this special but very threatened part of the planet.
What is the MI’s biggest priority in the coming 6 months?
The Mediterranean Initiative is building on the significant results of the marine team: reverting bluefin tuna decline, establishing MPAs, promoting the first fisheries co-management system and protecting cetaceans and sea turtles. We are now ready to scale up these results. Our first priority lies in securing the necessary resources and alliances that will allow us to achieve the ambitious goals we have set for ourselves.

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