Maritime transport is the backbone of the global economy. The sector is particularly important in the Mediterranean Sea which, despite covering less than 1% of the world’s oceans, carries about 15% of global shipping. Worldwide, ocean-related economic activity – the so-called Blue Economy – is growing; and the maritime transport sector is expected to continue increasing at a rate of 4% per annum for the next decade. In line with the global expansion of seaborne trade, shipping activity in the Mediterranean is growing in terms of the number of routes, traffic intensity and size of ships. And with this growth come increasing environmental impacts, such as chemical pollution, noise pollution and collisions with marine mammals. These environmental impacts are an issue for the whole of the Mediterranean, but it’s particularly critical that they’re prevented – or at least minimized – in Marine Protected Areas (MPAs), which by definition are areas of great importance for marine biodiversity and ecosystems. In certain sensitive MPAs, maritime transport of any kind is forbidden. In many, though, shipping activity is legally possible, so there’s an urgent need for all relevant stakeholders to work together to ensure sustainable transport practices and tools are identified and adopted to minimize its impact. Considering the growth of the sector, it’s inevitable that major commercial traffic routes will increasingly interact with MPAs and other area-based conservation measures in some Mediterranean locations, especially where vessels are approaching ports or passing through straits. This paper provides key recommendations for the main actors in the maritime transport sector to help move towards a sustainable Mediterranean Blue Economy. The three stakeholder groups we focus on are MPA managers, public authorities and maritime transport companies. Each group has its own priorities, perspectives and powers, but all can make important contributions to a sustainable future for the region.
biodiversity, blue economy, conservation, ecosystems, environmental impacts, marine protected areas, maritime transport, shipping.
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