Marine Protected Areas Regional Review

The updated review of Mediterranean MPAs is a collaborative work by IUCN, WWF and MedPAN – the Network of Managers of Marine Protected Areas in the Mediterranean - with the support of the UNEP Regional Activity Centre for Specially Protected Areas and the contribution of around one hundred MPA management agencies and experts.

Visit the MPAs of the Mediterranean in the ONLINE DATABASE.

The database contains accurate data and useful information of individual MPAs. Users can search sites by country, and for each site, find information on its:

  • General characteristics (map, size, geographical coordinates, zoning, IUCN management category, legal references and contacts)
  • Management (plan of management, enforcement and surveillance, equipment, staff, monitoring programme, and illegal activities)
  • Habitats and species currently under protection and the health status of key ones
  • Main threats to Mediterranean MPAs

Data collected in the survey has been analysed to assess the Status of Marine Protected Areas in the Mediterranean Sea.

The results showed that currently Mediterranean MPAs do not represent the diverse habitats and geography of the region.  Despite a recent declaration on trawling restrictions in deep waters (> 1000 m), there are no true deep-sea Mediterranean MPAs.  Except the Pelagos Sanctuary, all marine areas currently under some type of protection or management are coastal.  Moreover, 69 (or 73.4%) are located along the basin’s northern shore, highlighting the lack of MPAs along the southern and eastern coasts.  Yet, these under-represented regions and habitats are ecologically distinctive due to their particular oceanographic and biogeographic conditions.  A large number of MPAs are also ecologically isolated as the spacing of the existing MPAs is too wide, with 75% of the MPAs separated by more than 30 km. 

The percentage of protection is very far from the 10% CBD target.  The marine protected and managed area is 3.8% of the Mediterranean Sea. However, if the Pelagos Sanctuary is not taken into account, the area is only 0.4% of the total marine surface.  If we specifically consider strictly protected areas, the cumulative no-take area is reported to be 202 km², which represents 0.01% of the total surface area of the Mediterranean Sea and 2.2% of the total surface area of the existing MPAs. These figures include multi-use areas and reflect state legal protection using MPAs, but do not necessarily reflect the effectiveness of the protection or management.  Results of the survey highlighted that many MPAs are currently not sufficiently managed and can be defined as “paper parks”.  Implementation of MPAs should be addressed particularly in countries of the southern and eastern Mediterranean as these areas revealed the major needs and challenges relating to management and surveillance capacity.

To read the whole document click here.

Scientific and grey literature reports about Mediterranean marine conservation have been catalogued and are available at the IUCN Centre for Mediterranean Cooperation.

To download the select list of references click here.

Mediterranean MPAs

The data shown in this map does not necessarily reflect the views of IUCN, MedPAN and WWF.

Mediterranean landscape
Visit the MPAs of the Mediterranean
Status of MPAs in the Mediterranean
  • Sea gulls
  • Scorpaena scrofa