For many Mediterranean countries 2015 has been difficult but we hope for peace and that all governments will reflect upon the importance of their natural capital. The COP21 agreement — referred to as "the beginning of the end of the fossil fuel era" — is a step in the right direction. For WWF, the MMI is an opportunity to chart a different route for the Mediterranean, a call for action for all those who care about the future of the Mediterranean Sea and the millions of livelihoods that depend on it.
In July 2015, Sazan Island, part of the Karaburun-Sazan National Marine Park, was opened to the public for the first time. Then, in November the Albanian Ministry for the Environment adopted the Park's first management plan. Developed by WWF and local partner INCA, it is the first protected area management plan developed using a participatory approach in Albania. The local community was actively engaged. INCA led the process, which has already served as a best practice for the development of a sustainable tourism management plan for the same area and will serve as a positive model for future planning processes in Albania.
Karaburun-Sazan facts and figures
Karaburun-Sazan, Albania's first and only MPA, was proclaimed a National Marine Park in 2010. It covers 12,428ha in total with a marine area stretching 1.9 km along the coastlines of Karaburun Peninsula and Sazan Island near the Bay of Vlora.
During Communism, Sazan island had a small village populated by army families, while the peninsula operated as one of the most important marine military bases in Albania. Public access to the area at that time was forbidden.
At the moment, tourism accounts for less than 5% of Albania’s GDP and the government is keen for this figure to grow.
WWF congratulates ICCAT for continuing to follow scientific advice and maintain the bluefin tuna recovery plan unchanged, following their annual meeting in Malta in November. The lack of traceability for this species, though, is worrying, especially as it prevents the eradication of illegal fishing. WWF also raised an urgent call to improve the situation of the Mediterranean swordfish as no measures to help its recovery were agreed upon at the meeting. Read more.
There has been a major achievement recently in Italy concerning oil and gas drilling. WWF Italy has worked for many years with other major national and international NGOs (including Greenpeace) and Italian regional governments, on an intensive advocacy and policy campaign against land and offshore oil and gas drilling. Thanks to this joint effort the Italian government recently ruled that there will be no renewal of land and offshore drilling concessions — even for decades. The government has revoked their decision to consider drilling as "strategic" (which in the past has allowed them to apply an over-simplified EIA procedure) and they have cancelled a 2012 amnesty on approval procedures for drilling activity within 12 nautical miles of the coastline. WWF celebrates these decisions as a vital step towards a more sustainable use of Mediterranean natural resources.
"The Mediterranean region has abundant renewable energy resources which currently account for only a limited share of the region’s primary energy supply. Renewables and enhanced energy efficiency contribute to the energy security goals of the EU in a much more effective and sustainable fashion than fossil fuels and are also in line with the EU’s recently formulated climate goals for 2030. Developing renewables and energy efficiency must become the overriding priority."
After a period of sporadic governance and inactivity the Pelagos Sanctuary – which accounts for 4% of the 5.6% of marine area protected in the Mediterranean – has regained momentum. Important decisions were made at the 6th Conference of the Parties, in Monaco in December, which closed the Italian and opened the French presidency of the Sanctuary. WWF released a report on the status of the Sanctuary earlier this year (in Italian and French).
The decisions included:
- more active participation of stakeholders
- wider adoption of "high quality" whale watching label developed by ACCOBAMS
- more local councils involved
- stronger trilateral cooperation (Italy, France and Spain)
- increased financial means
- rotation of the presidency of the scientific committee
- secretariat hosted in Monaco.
WWF and MedPAN continue to lead on MPAs in the Mediterranean with funding, partnerships and addressing emerging issues such as sustainable tourism. At the recent MedPAN annual workshop, held in Sardinia, WWF‘s SEA-Med project delivered some of the best success stories, particularly the great work done by MPAs in Lastovo and Telascica, Croatia, through the WWF/Sunce partnership, and the work conducted by INCA in Albania. These case studies demonstrated the value of participatory planning for tourism and the need to strengthen public-private partnerships
Marine Protected Areas can be a winning card for sustainable tourism in the Mediterranean. WWF's stories of best practices from Mediterranean MPAs at this link.