When & where

The pilot activities will be developed in four MPAs, tailored on the specific human uses.

The focus will be on those human uses presently considered a concrete threat (fishery, different forms of touristic frequentation, yachting) together with those possibly increasing in the future (e.g. marine litter) that are today an important concern since difficult to be managed both at local and at transnational scale.

The pilot activities will be replicated by different partners using the same scheme, but considering different combination of human uses so to ensure future large applicability of the results of the project.

Local and regional stakeholders (e.g. Management bodies of protected areas, MPA managers) will benefits from these pilot activities since they represent the first example of real coordinated application of MSP in the Mediterranean Sea able to significantly improve the management and the monitoring of biodiversity and the services it provides of MPAs reducing the threats acting within the territory.

The five Marine Protected Areas..

1. The Freus d’Eivissa i Formentera Marine Reserve

The Freus d’Eivissa i Formentera Marine Reserve is located between Ibiza and Formentera (Balearic Islands; NW Mediterranean). Covering ca. 14000 ha, it is managed by the Balearic Islands Government aiming both at conservation of the habitats and communities, and at enhancement of small-scale fisheries.

Posidonia oceanica meadows are the most representative communities, occurring down to 35 m depth, although the marine reserve extends down to 60 m and hosts 35 different communities. The no-take area has been reported to increase the species richness, density and biomass (6 fold in the 2000-2016 period) of the fish community.

2. The North-East Marine Protected Area

The "Żona fil-Baħar bejn Il-Ponta ta' San Dimitri (Għawdex) u Il-Qaliet" was designated as a Special Area of Conservation of International Importance by the Environment and Resources Authority (ERA) and as a Natura 2000 site through the EU Habitats Directive by virtue of the habitats and species it hosts. The MPA includes the north-eastern coast of Malta, from St. George’s Bay to Ċirkewwa, the coast of Comino and the eastern coast of Gozofrom Ħondoq Ir-Rummien to Xwejni Bay.

This MPA was primarily identified because it hosts more than 80 per cent of Posidonia oceanica seagrass meadows found in the Maltese Islands. In the Mediterranean, this habitat is considered as a conservation priority since it: provides both food and shelterfor a number of marine species; acts as a carbon sink; stabilises the seabed; maintains a high degree of water column transparency by trapping particulates, and protects sandy beaches from sand depletion. The seagrass species itself is known as a ‘keystone’ oneby virtue of the many ecological roles it plays. The MPA is also home to other protected marine habitats, including reefs and caves, as well as to a number of iconic marine species endemic to the Mediterranean, such as the Noble Pen Shell (Pinna nobilis), thelong-spined sea urchin (Centrostephanus longispinus), the star coral (Astroides calycularis) and the vulnerable Mediterranean coral(Cladocora caespitosa). The largest maerl bed within Maltese coastal waters is also partly located within this MPA.

Among various activities taking place on the site – such as those related to commercial shipping (e.g. the MPA hosts a major shipbunkering zone) and recreational navigation – the most popular is diving (the MPA hosts a large number of wrecks) and tourism (e.g. the MPA hosts some of the most popular beaches on the islands, including Mellieħa Bay and the Blue Lagoon, for a total of 7out of the 12 Blue Flag beaches identified to date within the Maltese Islands). Additional activities ongoing within the MPA’s precinctsinclude artisanal fishing and aquaculture, with the MPA hosting the large agglomeration of tuna pens in Maltese coastal waters.


Contact person: Prof. Aldo Drago; Head, Physical Oceanography Research Group; Coordinator, M.Sc. in Applied Oceanography; Dept. of Geosciences, Faculty of Science University of Malta; Secretary: 00356 21440972; Mobile: 00356 99832830.

3. Porto Cesareo Marine Protected Area

Established by decree of the Italian Ministry of the Environment on 12 December 1997, the Porto Cesareo MPA with its 16,654 ha and a coastal length of 32 km is the third largest marine protected area in Italy. Its located east of the Gulf of Taranto, in the northern Ionian Sea. The Porto Cesareo MPA is mostly characterized by sandy beaches alternate with shallow rocky coastlines, and many small islands and rocks. There are at least 15 different habitats mapped highly representative of Mediterranean submarine populations, including a high coverage of Posidonia meadows (with three SCI sites within the MPA), coralligenous habitats and underwater caves, all three habitats are of high environmental value, and are included in the Annexes of the EC Directive, and in the SPAMI protocol. 

The MPA has two Zones A (no take zone), two Zones B (highly protected zone) and a Zone C (partially protected zone). In the Porto Cesareo MPA there are three marine SCI sites; "Porto Cesareo" (Cod: IT9150028), in Zone C, with a total of 21.8 ha, "Palude del Capitano" (Cod: IT9150013), in Zone C and B, with a total of 1,667 ha, " Palude del Conte e Dune di Punta Prosciutto "(Cod: IT9150027), in Zone C, with a total of 3,660 ha and in Zone A with 1,048 ha. Moreover, along the coast of the MPA, there are two regional protected areas, the Regional Reserve "Palude del Conte e Dune Costiere - Porto Cesareo", and the Regional Natural Park "Porto Selvaggio - Palude del Capitano", where there are 5 SCI land sites.

Recently the CIESM (Commission Internationale pour l'Exploration Scientifique de la Méditerranée) proposed the hypothesis of 8 cross-border Mediterranean areas to be subjected to joint environmental protection and coordinated between neighboring countries, called Peace Parks, with the clear objective of conserving biodiversity, and at the same time promoting international cooperation. One of the 8 proposed areas, called "North Ionian", includes entirely the Porto Cesareo MPA, along with the Reserve of Torre Guaceto and the Albanian and Greek coastline.

The institutional objectives of the Porto Cesareo MPA are the protection of the marine environment, the socio-eco-friendly promotion, the realization of research projects, and the environmental education focused on the broadest categories of stakeholders, for the continuous improvement of environmental and social quality of the region.

Pictures by Gianluca Romano and Sergio Fai (Porto Cesareo MPA staff)

Contact person: Dott. D'Ambrosio Paolo, Director, Consorzio di Gestione Area Marina Protetta Porto Cesareo; e-mail: paolodambrosio@remove-this.hotmail.com

Web page: http://www.ampportocesareo.it

4. Torre Guaceto Marine Protected Area

Torre Guaceto Marine Protected Area (MPA) is located in south-eastern Italy (southern Adriatic Sea),  it covers about 2220 ha and it was established by the Minister of Environment  with a Decree on December 4, 1991.

The Torre Guaceto Protected Marine Area has been established with the aim of providing a model for sustainable development of the coastal and marine area through conservation of the biodiversity, involving the socio-economic actors of the area, with the attention towards a continuous improvement of its environmental governance.

Contact person: Francesco de Franco; Environment Unit, Marine Protected Area of Torre Guaceto; E-mail: segreteria@riservaditorreguaceto.it.

5 .The National Marine Park of Alonissos Northern Sporades

The National Marine Park of Alonissos Northern Sporades (N.M.P.A.N.S.) was the first Marine Protected Area established in Greece, in 1992, and the largest protected marine area in Europe. It ranges over a wide area covering approximately 2.3150 km , located in the northwest of the Aegean Sea. Besides the sea area, the Park includes the island of Alonissos - where the Park’s Management head office is placed (in Patitiri)- six smaller islands and 22 rocky outcrops.

The Park is a rare sanctuary for the Mediterranean monk seal, Monachus monachus, considered as one of the most important in the whole Mediterranean Basin. The island of Piperi, on the northeast of the surrounded area, is a keybreeding site for the animal and is protected by the Barcelona Convention. At the National Marine Park of Alonissos Northern Sporades there is a unique combination of terrestrial and marine Mediterranean habitats with hundreds of plant and animal species, as well as important archaeological and historical monuments. The region is of particular scientific, educational and cultural interest, as in the wider area of ​​the Park there are archaeological finds from the Prehistoric, Classical and Byzantine periods (wrecks, old monasteries and churches).

Contact person: Theodoros Mouratidis; Management Body of National Marine Park of Alonnissos Northern Sporades, Patitiri, Alonnissos island, Greece; E-mail: tmourati@alonissos-park.gr; Phone: +30 2424066419.