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© ©FAO/Giulio Napolitano

Mediterranean Initiative bulletin: Issue 5 / April-May 2014

19 May 2014, (Left to right) Demetres Karavellas, Leader (interim) WWF Mediterranean Initiative, Abdellah Srour, Executive Secretary, GFCM, signing the Memorandum of Understanding. Opening session of the General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean (GFCM), 38th Session. FAO headquarters, Rome, Italy.
WWF Mediterranean Initiative in the global spotlight
WWF International President, Yolanda Kakabadse at the 2014 Annual Conference in Iguaçu, Brazil. © WWF / Richard Stonehouse

Speaking at the recent WWF Annual Conference, Yolanda Kakabadse, WWF’s International President, recognized the effective inter-network cooperation of the 8 offices engaged in the WWF Mediterranean Initiative, and called for support and collaboration from the broader WWF network to take the Mediterranean Initiative to the next level. She congratulated the Mediterranean Initiative partners (WWF France, Greece, Italy, Spain, Turkey with the Mediterranean Programme, European Policy Office and WWF International) for their impressive results so far, and their ambitions for future results.
“The Mediterranean is one of the most beautiful regions of this planet. And it's also a difficult challenge – the presence of so many countries and cultures forces all stakeholders to think ‘out of the box’.”

What does Yolanda think about fisheries co-management?

In April the Mediterranean Initiative was pleased to welcome Yolanda Kakabadse to our fisheries co-management project on the Mediterranean coast near Barcelona. A year ago these Catalan fishermen received the WWF Conservation Merit Award for their innovative approach to co-management. They invited Yolanda and John Tanzer, Marine Programme Director at WWF International, to visit them and hear more about their work.

“This is definitely a project we all need to replicate – in the Mediterranean and in other areas of the world. All players have embraced the challenge and have demonstrated that co-management is not just words”. Read more.

Future trends for blue growth in the Mediterranean
A helicopter lowering a technician to maintain the Horns Rev wind farm, Esbjerg, Denmark © National Geographic Stock/ Sarah Leen / WWF

The Mediterranean Sea is increasingly exploited by a diversity of maritime activities: wind farms, oil extraction, cables, shipping routes, fisheries and tourism. To ensure that the Mediterranean Sea governance framework is equipped to meet oncoming challenges, the Mediterranean Initiative, under the leadership of WWF-France, has launched a project – MedTrends – to map potential maritime economic growth in 8 EU Mediterranean countries by 2030. MedTrends partners include WWF-Spain, WWF-Greece, WWF Mediterranean and partner NGO Nature Trust Malta with many other organisations both within and outside the WWF network involved in the project.

Deep sea mining in Europe’s oceans – a good idea?

Even Europe’s deep sea is not off limits anymore: deep water oil exploration and drilling has started in the Mediterranean and the deep sea mining industry is seeking the first licenses to explore seabed minerals. WWF believes that mining operations in the deep ocean pose huge risks to as yet unexplored ecosystems and environments. For European Maritime Day on 19 May WWF convened a stakeholder workshop addressing deep sea mining in Europe’s seas from the legal, policy and environmental angles. Read more.

Seafood for beginners
Maria Damanaki playing the fish game. © M.Livanou/ WWF Greece

Let the little fish grow”, WWF Greece’s online game, was played with great enthusiasm by Maria Damanaki, European Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, at the Athens launch of Inseparable, a Europe-wide European Commission (DG Mare) campaign to promote sustainable fishing. The game, which was funded by the EC, features commercial fish and raises awareness regarding the alarming state of fish stocks in the Mediterranean and the devastating consequences of fishing undersized, juvenile, fish.

A closer look

Detail from WWF Greece's online game. 
© WWF Greece

Here is an example from WWF Greece's online game:
IDENTIFY What fish is this?  SEASONALITY When does it reproduce?
MINIMUM SIZE How big should it be before we can eat it?
98% of common pandoras are born female and reach their first sexual maturity at 15cm. By the time they reach 17cm they become males. By not eating common pandora between April and May, when they reproduce in the Greek Seas, you help protect their stock.

All about fin whales

Campaigns at sea organised by WWF-France for 6 weeks each summer between 2010 and 2013 have provided a wealth of data on fin whales. After hundreds of pregnancy tests and biopsies we can report that the reproductive capacity of fin whales seems to have remained at a steady rate. Instead, juvenile mortality appears to be the major limiting factor of fin whale population restoration.

For more information on the results of the fin whale (Balaenoptera physalus) research contact

© / Mark Carwardine / WWF

More ecotourism for our coasts
For more information contact © WWF Mediterranean

SEA-Med, the largest MPA/Tourism project in the WWF network, focused on ecotourism in April and May, with regional workshops in Albania and Tunisia. Six project teams (from Albania, Algeria, Croatia, Libya, Tunisia, Turkey) began tourism planning for MPAs, under the guidance of WWF Mediterranean and WWF-Greece. Meanwhile, in Tunisia WWF Mediterranean North Africa team ran training workshops on the role of protected areas in promoting ecotourism and on public/private partnerships in ecotourism investment.

Interview: success and strategy in the Mediterranean

Marco Costantini, Marine Officer at WWF Italy, talks about a changing perception of conservation issues in the Mediterranean over the past decade.

Marco addressing colleagues at an MPA. © WWF
What changes have you seen?
WWF has had excellent results regarding the status of the Mediterranean Sea, and there is a changing awareness globally concerning the conservation of Mediterranean resources. The Mediterranean is a closed sea – any damage it sustains affects all whose coasts lie within it. Although the Med has been principally considered a great holiday destination, our words and warnings about pollution, overfishing, unsustainable development are now being taken more seriously. There is a sense that there is something very, very important at stake.

How are these changes reflected at a policy level?
We are seeing a growing number of opportunities to build on the work we have done so far, and take it further. To name only the most recent developments, European Commissioner Maria Damanaki has proposed a total driftnet ban in all European waters. Historically in the Med swordfish are illegally fished using drifnets which also results in the by-catch of sperm whales, dolphins, tuna and sea turtles. If the EU accepts Damanaki's proposal it will be a great step forward to reduce IUU fishing. In addition, the Adriatic Sea is now 80% European waters, and will be the scene of a range of new projects and co-operative Italian/Croatian initiatives. And WWF’s signing of the MoU with the GFCM in Rome this week, along with the GFCM reform, is also a move towards the adoption of a regional programme for small-scale fisheries based on multi-stakeholder cooperation.
Vis Island, Dalmatia, Croatia 
© Emma Duncan / WWF
Vis Island, Dalmatia, Croatia
© Emma Duncan / WWF