23 May 2009

Facing conservation crises amidst institutional neglect

Tethys funder and honorary president Giuseppe Notarbartolo di Sciara organised on 23 May a seminar titled "Mediterranean Focus: facing conservation crises amidst institutional neglect" at the International Marine Mammal Congress: Making Marine Science Matter currently held in Washington, D.C., between 19-24 May.

The rationale behind this session organised by Giuseppe, in his own words, is copied below:

There is probably no sea on Earth where the combination of unique and universally recognised natural and cultural values characterising the Mediterranean must coexist with extraordinarily intense and pervasive human pressures, which increasingly threaten to send all those values into oblivion.

Addressing threats, finding solutions to conflicts, and ensuring that the Mediterranean’s unique features are not lost is done half-heartedly by the regional governments, and results are frustratingly meagre: success stories hardly come to mind.

In spite of commitments, habitats continue to degrade year after year, and charismatic species vanish under our very eyes. The disappearance from western Greece of common dolphins, among the most threatened marine mammals in the region, is a case in point. The scientific bases of the problem are well-known, win-win solutions are within reach, legal tools are available; and yet, no action is taken by the governing authorities.

A similar feat is threatening sea turtles competing with beach chairs for nesting space, and the few remaining monk seals sharing their dwindling habitat with coastal fishermen; meanwhile, Italian driftnet fishermen and entire fleets targeting bluefin tunas continue their illegal practices undisturbed; and most MPAs in the region are mere paper parks.

Goal of this session is to brainstorm on the development of more local and accountable management systems, in the Mediterranean like anywhere else, to be proposed as an alternative to ineffective top-down governance.

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