Future Trends in the Mediterranean Sea

PRESENTATION OF THE PROJECT

The MedTrends project aims to illustrate and map the most likely integrated scenarios of marine economic growth at a transnational level in Med-EU countries for the next 20 years. The potential cumulative impacts of human activities at sea was assessed and put into the perspective of the 10% marine protected areas target set for the Mediterranean.

MAIN MESSAGES

  • All traditional maritime economic sectors currently operating in the Mediterranean are expected to grow and expand over the next 15 years, including tourism, shipping, and aquaculture. Comparatively new or emerging sectors such as renewable energy, seabed mining and biotechnology are expected to grow even faster. The extremely fast development of the number of offshore oil and gas exploration contracts over the past few years should be emphasized;
  • It is difficult to determine the whole range of specific interactions among maritime activities, their pressures on the marine environment and their cumulative impacts. In conjunction with climate change, the expected growth of the use of maritime space poses a considerable threat to the health of already-stressed Med ecosystems;
  • These trends also generate significant conflicts among sectors, for instance among sectors that rely strongly on marine ecosystem services (marine and coastal tourism, fisheries, and aquaculture) and extractive industries and maritime traffic
  • The risk is high of failing to achieve Good Environmental Status by 2020 for 7 out of 11 of the descriptors of the Marine Strategy Framework Directive in the Mediterranean Sea. Similarly, the results highlight the challenges for the EU to meet the Convention on Biological Diversity Aichi Target 11, which requires 10% of EU waters to be within MPAs or other effective area-based management measures by 2020;
  • Preventing or reducing environmental damage and achieving sustainable use of the marine environment thus remains a huge challenge for the Mediterranean Sea;
  • Guidance on what a “Sustainable Blue Economy” or “Sustainable Blue Growth” looks like, in practice, is missing right now. All this change is happening against a background of vague concepts and relatively weak formulations about what needs to be done to ensure that the Blue Economy is truly sustainable. The context of the future implementation of the Blue Growth Strategy and the Maritime Spatial Planning Directive is still complex and very unclear.

KEY DELIVERABLE

  • ONE INTERNATIONAL REPORT IN ENGLISH WITH RECOMMENDATIONS TO THE EU
  • 8 NATIONAL REPORTS IN THE LANGUAGE OF EACH COUNTRY COVERED WITH RECOMMENDATIONS TO THE GOVERNMENTS
  • A FEASIBILITY STUDY ON HOW MED MARINE ECOSYSTEM SERVICES AND VALUES COULD BE INTEGRATED IN FUTURE MSP DECISION-MAKING PROCESSES

TECHNICALS HINTS

  • Smart and innovative solutions need to be developed and implemented at a rate that coincides with the increasing exploitation of the seas to tackle these sustainability challenges. Implementation of EU policy tools (MSFD, IMP,…) needs to take into account enlarged temporal and spatial dimensions to better anticipate these challenges: at temporal level, by establishing development trends scenarios of the maritime economy sectors at a minimum of 15 to 20 years scale, and given the semi-enclosed nature of the Mediterranean where any national development may easily impact several neighboring countries, these trends need to be anticipated at a transnational level;
  • Building shared prospective visions for an integrated ocean management requires agreeing on underlying principles for a Sustainable Blue Economy to ensure that the economic development of the ocean contributes to true prosperity and resilience, today and long into the future. The following principles are key: (1) taking into account EU policy visions of establishing a circular green economy (maximize the recycling of rare metals waste before deep-sea mining), (2) As far as strategic energy development infrastructures are concerned, giving preference to transition to renewable energies. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA) more than two thirds of all proven fossil fuel reserves in the ground should be left aside to have only a modest 50% chance to keep the Earth below a 2 degree increase in global average temperature compared to pre-industrial times. In the face of the unprecedented development of offshore oil and gas exploration in the Mediterranean, WWF supports a strong approach with a no-go position for new developments, (3) implementing the MSFD ecosystem-based approach as a prerequisite to the management of human activities and the pillar of the implementation of the MSP directive, (4) considering the issue of food sovereignty and thus giving priority to the restoration of fish stocks and their ecosystems, (5) applying the precautionary principle when key data necessary to inform smart decision-making is missing, (6) making clear decision-making processes.

GOVERNANCE HINTS

  • The practical modalities of the implementation of an MSFD ecosystem-based approach need to be clarified and shared at transnational level. The EU must clearly demonstrate its ability to incorporate the MSFD ecosystem-based approach in the EU macro-regional strategies and the implementation of the MSP directive, particularly in geographies that overlap with areas identified by the Convention of Biological Diversity (EBSA;
  • As regards the implementation of maritime spatial planning, the use of decision-making support tools incorporating the value of ecosystem services in spatial scenarios is recommended;
  • Mediterranean Ecologically and Biologically Significant Areas (EBSA) were approved by the Convention on biological Diversity in 2014. Mediterranean EBSA values, pressures and stressors should be clearly identified so that identified values in Mediterranean EBSAs are protected through application of relevant spatial conservation tools. EU macro-regional strategies areas should incorporate EBSAs in their environmental strategies. The designation of high seas MPAs in EBSAs should be supported;
  • Potential impacts of Blue growth on MPA networks and their connectivity should be assessed and taken in account in planning processes. Buffer zones between the activities of some maritime sectors (e.g. oil and gas exploration and production areas) and MPAs should be implemented.

SYNERGIES WITH OTHER PROJECTS

  • The MedTrends project has established collaboration with a number of other EU funded projects, such as ODEMM, COCONET, MEDOPENSEAS, PERSEUS,MEDIAMER