Large marine protected areas (LMPAs) in the Mediterranean Sea

The opportunity of the Adriatic Sea


Large marine protected areas (LMPAs) in the Mediterranean Sea

Bastari, A., Micheli, F., Ferretti, F., Pusceddu, A., & Cerrano, C. (2016). Large marine protected areas (LMPAs) in the Mediterranean Sea: The opportunity of the Adriatic Sea. Marine Policy, 68, 165-177. doi:10.1016/j.marpol.2016.03.010.

Key Findings:

  • The Mediterranean Sea has unique and ecologically significant habitats, which make it one of the most biodiverse seas in the world.  While it only covers 0.82% of the surface of the global ocean, it contains over 17,000 described marine species, more than 20% of which are endemic. But centuries of exploitation in the Mediterranean Sea has negatively impacted some of these marine resources.
  • The Adriatic Sea, the northernmost part of the Mediterranean, is a top priority for spatial protection.  It is one of the most productive areas of the region, but the unusual topography in its northern and central basin has created favorable conditions for exploitation, which has caused extensive degradation of marine habitats, loss of ecosystem services, and declines of target and non-target species.  The establishment of a no-trawl Large Marine Protected Area  (LMPA) can preserve the biodiversity and ecosystem services along the eastern side of the Adriatic Sea, and promote recovery of areas with degraded habitats and fisheries.
  • Establishing an LMPA in the Adriatic Sea would have ecological, socio-economic, and political benefits, for example:
    • An LMPA is expected to increase biodiversity, reduce bycatch, aid in the recovery of depleted fish stocks, and restore ecosystem functions and services in degraded areas. For instance, trawling has dramatically reduced filter feeder populations, including clams, oysters, and sponges.  Removing pressure and allowing these populations to rebound could increase water quality and control phytoplankton.
    • The Adriatic region is one of the most visited areas of the Mediterranean. Valuable marine economies such as tourism are harmed by a degraded environmental status. An LMPA could promote the recovery of charismatic species such as dolphins, whales, and sharks that were abundant in the past.
    • A transboundary LMPA could facilitate international cooperation between border countries, simplify maritime boundaries, and help meet international commitments, such as the EU Strategy for the Adriatic and Ionian Region, to expand marine conservation, and improve fisheries management and environmental quality and Marine Strategy Framework Directive.

The full publication is available here: