MEDITERRANEAN MARINE INITIATIVE
BULLETIN DECEMBER 2017
This year marks some incredible and unprecedented attention to oceans. The Mediterranean and WWF have been at the heart of global and regional dialogues towards the achievement of existing targets and in calling upon Mediterranean countries and industries to be more ambitious in protecting ocean assets for the economic, social and cultural benefits they provide for human well-being. In 2017, WWF demonstrated that the Mediterranean sustains a large component of the region's GDP, yet there is potential to increase its economic value by shifting to a sustainable blue economy. This year we fought many battles alongside local communities, small-scale fishers, marine protected areas managers; we gave voice to many threatened, vulnerable and iconic species, such as the blue shark, the bluefin tuna and the fin whale. We invested in new partnerships and in nurturing existing ones, while challenging ourselves to bring more innovation into marine conservation. In 2018, we look forward to working with all our partners and donors. We are grateful for their trust and support. In the new year, we will continue to be ambitious for the benefit of what we feel connected to, the place we call home: the Mediterranean Sea.
We wish you all a peaceful holiday season and best wishes for the New Year.
Giuseppe Di Carlo, Director, Mediterranean Marine Initiative
At the latest meeting of the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas in November WWF was dismayed by the decision to drastically increase bluefin tuna catch quotas to 36,000 tonnes by 2020. This is the highest total allowable catch ever set for bluefin tuna. Scientists warn that bluefin tuna stock is not yet recovered and can be expected to suffer as a result of such a catch level. "We have been fighting for the last 10 years to save bluefin tuna. We are so near recovery that it is a scandal to see ICCAT going back to business as usual; this could jeopardize all the progress we've made" said Alessandro Buzzi, Fisheries project manager at WWF. Read more.
COP23 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Bonn, Germany, in November was presided over by the government of Fiji, an ardent champion for oceans issues. For the first time we saw unprecedented attention to the role of the ocean in climate, both in terms of impact and in approaches to mitigation and adaptation. One of the key outcomes of COP23 is the “Because the Ocean” declaration, backed by the launch of the Roadmap to Oceans and Climate Action report. Discussion of the importance of oceans touched on the role that ocean-based blue economies play in providing a way forward for the sustainable economic development of coastal and island countries. Read more.
In the Mediterranean blue sharks are considered critically endangered. Of the estimated 100 million sharks caught globally each year, 20 million are blue sharks. A fishing ban for some shark species in the Mediterranean exists. This often means, however, that once caught, sharks are simply thrown back into the sea – dead – as unreported by-catch, leading to a lack of data that makes management difficult or impossible. Through the WWF Global Sharks and Rays Initiative WWF has joined forces with other organizations to scale up conservation efforts globally. In 2018 the Mediterranean Marine Initiative will launch a new project in the southern Adriatic, in a region that is thought to be a key area for the migration of blue sharks and other elasmobranch species. The project will engage fishers, the seafood industry, NGOs, scientists and authorities to tackle the issues of shark by-catch in long-line fisheries. Electronic monitoring, best by-catch handling practices, satellite tagging, and seafood fraud risk assessment will be used to develop best practices and serve as an example of how to turn the tide for sharks in the Mediterranean.
Earlier this year the Mediterranean Marine Initiative with ImpactHub Milan and the Bvlgari Group launched a business acceleration fellowship to identify innovative solutions for the collection and reuse of waste packaging. Last week we awarded two startups, a winner and a runner up, with a cash prize and a mentoring program on business planning and prototyping. Both start-ups developed projects to reduce/reuse/recycle plastics. This was the first such fellowship in the Mediterranean, while several WWF/ImpactHub fellowships are ongoing across the globe. Read more.
More than 400 key players from across the Mediterranean gathered in Naples on November 29-30 at the Regional Stakeholder Conference on Blue Economy organized by UfM. WWF highlighted the urgent need to address sustainability issues for the blue economy in the region, and advocated for the creation of a regional working group to guide the process of ecosystem-based planning, to produce guidelines for regional planners and to coordinate efforts to improve capacity building at the regional level. WWF has also been involved in the development of the UfM report which examines the status of the blue economy in the Mediterranean and which features some of WWF’s key recommendations for the achievement of a sustainable blue economy in the region.
This year we are celebrating the 40th anniversary of WWF in Turkey. The foundation has carried out more than 40 successful projects with the conservation of 6 priority species under threat in Turkey. These include the loggerhead turtle, green sea turtle and dusky grouper. Preservation of the natural habitats of these and other species has also been at the forefront of WWF Turkey’s work with the protection of 20 areas – national parks and protected areas. WWF Turkey’s plans for the coming year include an education program, supporting small-scale fishing, protecting seagrass and reducing plastic waste.