Marine environment

Towards ecosystem-based management of the Mediterranean Sea

The Contracting Parties to the Action Plan for the Mediterranean (PAM) have committed in 2008 of the application of the ecosystem approach (ECAP) to the management of human activities and defined a roadmap adopted at the COP18 in 2013, to achieve a common vision: a healthy Mediterranean with marine and coastal ecosystems that are productive and biologically diverse for the benefit of present and future generations. This holistic approach emphasizes the links between ecosystems, living beings that inhabit them and human well-being. Its application brings out priorities to respond more effectively to the needs of management and conservation. In 2016, during the COP 19, the Integrated Monitoring and Assessment Programme and related Assessment Criteria (IMAP) was adopted. IMAP provides guidelines for Contracting Parties to apply EcAp.

Principles and implementation of this initiative are consistent with those of the European Strategy Framework Directive for the marine environment, which are subject European Member States.

An alarming assessment

Despite log standing efforts, degradation of marine and coastal ecosystems is continuing. Main pressures and impacts affecting the Mediterranean were identified through the initial assessment:

  • Coastal development and sprawl, leading to habitat loss / degradation and shoreline erosion;
  • Overfishing and by-catch, affecting community structure and ecological processes;
  • Destructive fishing, bottom trawling disturbing ecosystems funds;
  • Contamination of sediments and living beings by pollution from urbanization and industry discharges, ships’ antifouling and atmospheric deposition of hazardous compounds;
  • Nutrient over-enrichment, leading to ecological imbalances (eutrophication, hypoxia);
  • Disturbance and pollution from shipping activities (maritime transport, energy, aquaculture and desalination);
  • Disturbance and pollution from shipping activities (maritime transport, energy, aquaculture and desalination);
  • Degradation of transitional or estuarine areas, which serve as critical nursery areas for commercial fisheries.

The ecosystem approach, a road in seven steps

1. 1. Establishing the vision for an ecosystem approach throughout the Mediterranean;
2. 2. Elaborating three strategic goals to achieve this vision;
3. 3. Undertaking an initial assessment to determine priority issues, information availability as well as gaps that need to be filled;
4. 4. Deciding on ecological objectives;
5. Determining operational objectives and associated indicators and identifying targets or thresholds for those indicators;
6. 6. Developing a monitoring strategy and
7. 7. Elaborating specific management plans and actions that will ensure that ecological objectives and strategic goals are met, moving the Mediterranean countries effectively towards their vision for marine and coastal management.

Mid-2017, steps 1-6 were completed and step 7 in progress. Plan Bleu completed the initial assessment by a socio-economic analysis. Final report is being validated by European Commission.

The commitment of Plan Bleu in the economic aspects

The Plan Bleu’s works are focusing on economic analysis of marine and coastal ecosystems, as a preparatory step to the implementation of integrated management measures to reach good status of these ecosystems.

Plan Bleu is working:

  • At the local level, on Marine Protected Areas as a tool for management and economic evaluation of their impacts,
  • At the regional level, on:

Assessment of the economic value of sustainable benefitsprovided by the Mediterranean marine ecosystems,
– Analysis of maritime economic activities sustainability, case of fishing,
– Economic and social analysis as part of the ECAP MAP initiative,
– Significant participation in the European research project PERSEUS (Policy oriented marine Environmental Research for the Southern EUropean Seas) for economic and social analysis and development of adaptive management measures.
– In the framework of EcApMED II project, Plan Bleu is in charge of the activity related to Science-Policy interface strengthening. This activity allows discussion between scientists and Mediterranean decision-makers on strategies and methodologies to make marine and coastal policies stronger and more adaptive.

More information

Key figures

  • 46,000 km of coastline (13% of the world length)
  • 2.5 million km ² (1% of the world’s ocean surface)
  • High biodiversity: 6% of marine species in the world, a high level of endemism (28%), 750 fish species, 20 marine mammals, 5 turtles
  • Species at risk of extinction and vulnerable: about 8% of fish species, including most of the species of rays and sharks, half of marine mammals including monk seals and turtles
  • More than half of fish species are affected by overfishing
  • Nearly 1,000 non indigenous species recorded in the Mediterranean, with about a new entry every two weeks


Plan Bleu
Building the Mediterannean’s future together
Plan Bleu