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Marine protected areas network

The marine protected areas in the Mediterranean constitute a valuable tool for management and governance. Their foundation and management are governed by international conventions.

A Marine Protected Area (MPA) is a delimited area of the sea subject to a long-term objective of protection of nature. Rarely exclusive, this objective is often either associated with a local objective of socio-economic development, or linked to the sustainable management of resources. A range of measures are implemented : scientific monitoring, action programmes, charters of good conduct, protection of the maritime public domain, legislation, surveillance, informing the public, etc.

In addition to the local interest, a Marine Protected Area plays a role at regional, national and international level : reserve effect, migration of birds, spawning grounds, and so on.

To facilitate exchanges between the managers of Marine Protected Areas, and thus contribute to the coherence of the whole, two organizations have appeared on the scene : the Marine Protected Areas Agency (Agence des Aires Marines Protégées) in France and the MedPan Network of Marine Protected Areas in the Mediterranean. The National Marine Protected Areas | French Law of 2006 relative to National Parks

Since 1990, the aim of the network has been to enhance the management effectiveness of Marine Protected Areas. Given the status under French law of an Association in 2008, its mission is to promote the creation, sustainability and functioning of a Mediterranean ecological network of Marine Protected Areas.

MEDPAN also contributes to the Protocol Concerning Specially Protected Areas (SPA) and Biological Diversity in the Mediterranean. The SPAs are important sites for the conservation of biological diversity containing specific ecosystems or habitats related to endangered species.

Under the auspices of the Mediterranean Action Plan and of the Regional Activity Centre for Specially Protected Areas, MedPan also engages the contracting parties to undertake programmes for research and exchanges of scientific and technical information, to draw up management plans and to develop cooperation programmes.

The Specially Protected Areas (SPAMI) correspond to a label. The most effective sites follow two principles :
-  firstly, to be representative for the conservation of components of biodiversity, or ecosystems specific to the region or habitats of endangered species or of special interest with regard to scientific, aesthetic, cultural or educational aspects ;
-  secondly, to be effectively managed, with a proper process of monitoring and assessment.

These areas may be declared throughout the Mediterranean and represent one of the most important instruments to enable countries to jointly declare areas of conservation and management for the high seas. They constitute the core of a network, the aim of which is the conservation of the Mediterranean patrimony.

The SPAMIs, legally binding for all the parties, have priority in matters of scientific and technical research, and with regard to mutual assistance.

The list of Specially Protected Areas is established by the Mediterranean Action Plan (MAP) within the framework of the Biodiversity Protocol of the Barcelona Convention, under the auspices of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). This list is managed by the Regional Activity Centre for Specially Protected Areas, situated at Tunis.

There are four new Specially Protected Areas of Mediterranean Importance (SPAMI) in France :
Port-Cros National Park.
Bouches de Bonifacio Regional Reserve.
- The new Côte Bleu Marine Park.
- The newly designated Les Embiez Archipelago - Six Fours.

Conservation of sites of particular ecological interest in the Mediterranean

Interactive map of protected areas

The Marine Protected Areas Agency has put its videos online :
Various films produced by the Agency on its missions : creation and management of marine natural parks, oceanographic campaigns, informing the public.

ACCOBAMS : The Agreement for the Conservation of Cetaceans of the Black Sea, Mediterranean Sea and contiguous Atlantic Area ACCOBAMS. is a cooperation tool for the conservation of marine biodiversity. Its aim is to reduce threats to cetaceans in this area and to enhance knowledge of these animals.

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[Ph. D. Planète Mer]

The PELAGOS Sanctuary : this is a maritime area of 87 500 km² that is subject to an agreement between Italy, Monaco and France for the protection of the marine mammals that frequent it. It possesses a biological capital of high heritage value because of the presence of numerous species of cetaceans during the summer period.

It is also an area dedicated to consultation, to ensure that the human activities that already occur may develop there in harmony with the surrounding natural environment without compromising the survival of species or the quality of their habitats.
Bulletin Pelagos n°11 (in French)

As part of the project for preserving mammals in the PELAGOS Sanctuary, a network for positioning large cetaceans provides the means to inform ships of their position in real time. This limits the risks of collisions.REPCET Project.
Developed within the PELAGOS Sanctuary, it is planned to extend it throughout the ACCOBAMS area and wherever collisions between ships and cetaceans are a major problem.

The REPCET computer system has been developed by the company Technologies Software Chrisar, which has been awarded the label of the regional Competitivity Cluster The Sea (Pôle Mer PACA) and is coordinated by the Association Souffleurs d’Ecume. The shipping company Société Nationale Maritime Corse Méditerranée (SNCM) is a partner in this operation.
- Newsletter (August 2012) – Possibility of extending the system to the Atlantic : Real time detection of cetaceans (in French)
- Newsletter (August 2013) : Zones at risk REPCET (in French)
- Newsletter (October 2014) : A new collision (in French)

The Association Regard du Vivant has produced for the PELAGOS sanctuary a series of four short films each of a few minutes duration to present the PELAGOS Sanctuary. Long version of the film :

Pelagos Activity Report 2012
- Scientific studies of the Port-Cros National Park - Volume 25-2011 :
- Interesting publications : Survey of strandings of cetaceans on the French Mediterranean coasts (Recensement des échouages des cétacés sur les côtes françaises de Méditerranée) (2005-2009), F.Dhermain et al. | Monitoring of large dolphins and Risso dolphins in the sector of the islands of Hyères in 2009 (Suivi des grands dauphins et dauphins de Risso sur le secteur des îles d’Hyères in 2009), H.Labach et al.
-  Marine Protected Areas : towards the introduction of a real management system for the littoral environment.

Last World Marine Protected Areas Congress (2013) -Official Congress website :

À consulter

- Marine Protected Areas Agency :
- Marine areas :
- Categories of Marine Protected Areas :
- Status of Marine Protected Areas :
- Marine Protected Areas in French waters :
- Regional Activity Centre for Marine Protected Areas :
- Port-Cros National Park :
- MedPAN network :
- Agreement on the conservation of cetaceans in the Mediterranean and the Black Sea :
- The PELAGOS Sanctuary :
- Repcet project :
Souffleurs d’écume cetacean protection association :