Works realized for the tenth step of the long term project Journey into Fragility, focus on sea resources. The Mediterranean Sea only occupies 1% of the Earth’s marine area but a third of international goods transport and tourism crosses the Mediterranean sea, with the inevitable consequences for the health of its animal and plant life. The three main causes of the changes in the equilibrium of the Mediterranean and its biodiversity are pollution caused by marine traffic and the industrialization of the coasts; climatic changes, in particular the increase in sea temperatures; and the presence of tropical species which originate in the Red Sea and the Atlantic Ocean.
Protected areas cover just 4.56% of the overall Mediterranean sea area. but only 1.8% of this protected area is outside Pelagos Sanctuary for Mediterranean Marine Mammals, an international protected marine area which was created in 1999 thanks to the three countries which make up the sanctuary: France (Cote d’Azur and Corsica), Principality of Monaco and Italy (Liguria, Tuscany and northern Sardinia). The Mediterranean’s smallest protected marine area is in Israel (Akhziv National Park) and the largest, apart from Pelagos Sanctuary, is the Gulf of Lyon National Marine Park in France. There are 677 protected marine areas in the Mediterranean – 6.6% of the world’s total protected marine areas – but the reality is that less than 0.1% of the Mediterranean is covered by ‘integrally protected zones’ where fishing is prohibited. The geographical distribution of protected marine areas across the Mediterranean is very uneven in that 96% of these areas are in the northern part of the Mediterranean Sea and they are all located in coastal zones, apart from Pelagos Sanctuary, which is the only protected area which extends into the open sea. Seventy-four per cent of the Mediterranean’s total surface area lies beyond 12 miles from the coast but only 3% of this area is protected and three quarters of this is within the Pelagos Sanctuary.
It has been calculated that 80% of Mediterranean marine species are over-exploited. One of the most endangered species is the Mediterranean monk seal: it faces a high risk of extinction with only 250-300 seals remaining, situated in the north east of the Mediterranean. Other species which are greatly at risk are the sea turtle,“caretta caretta”, and the great white shark.