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A ‘blue Gold Rush’ in the Med

The Mediterranean Sea won’t sustain our economy if we don’t turn the tide now
A 'blue Gold Rush' in the MeA 'blue Gold Rush' in the Med Picture from MyGreenPod Sustainable News

Without a long-term vision for sustainable development, the Mediterranean Sea will not be able to sustain our economy and our wellbeing.

This is the conclusion of MedTrends, a study run by WWF that provides the first global and integrated picture of the growth of economic maritime activities in eight Mediterranean countries: Croatia, Cyprus, France, Italy, Greece, Malta, Slovenia and Spain.

Competition for resources

MedTrends analyses the current status, development trends (to 2030) and environmental impacts of 10 key maritime economic sectors.

It reveals that maritime activities such as transport, tourism, aquaculture and many others are expected to expand substantially over the next 20 years.

This is creating growing competition for limited space and marine resources, which will result in even greater pressure on an already stressed ecosystem. The charity states that coordinated and long-term planning of the whole basin cannot wait.

‘In a ‘business as usual’ scenario, the current exploitation of maritime space and resources is simply not sustainable. The only way to ensure that the Mediterranean Sea will continue to support our national economies and to promote a sustainable blue economy is an integrated management of the maritime space.

‘Economy, industries, governments, civil society and all stakeholders must build a vision for the Mediterranean that reconciles economic development and resource management.’

Giuseppe Di Carlo, Director of WWF Mediterranean Marine Initiative

Aquaculture vs tourism

Not surprisingly, the only sector that shows a downward trend is professional fishery: today over 90% of fish stocks are overexploited.

Conflicts for space will arise between aquaculture and tourism (by far the most important industry for the Mediterranean economy with a forecast 500 million tourists by 2030) as both activities will develop on the coastline.

The study also predicts conflict between oil and gas extraction and renewable energies.

‘The tools do exist on paper – first of all the Marine Spatial Planning Directive of July 2014 – but much must still be done. The implementation of this Directive requires a shared and ambitious vision for the future of Mediterranean maritime space, taking into account different spatial scales, and with the protection and restoration of biodiversity and ecosystems as a keystone. Otherwise, it will be impossible to reach the environmental targets set by the European Commission that are already at serious risk.’

Catherine Piante of WWF France, MedTrends project leader

Click here to see the MedTrends report and all relevant data and maps.

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