EU countries to establish large marine protected area in the Mediterranean
In order to comply with EU targets on the protection of the sea and biodiversity, Italy’s environment minister said that an agreement is in the works to establish a large marine protected area (MPA) in the Mediterranean.
“An agreement is being finalized with France, Spain and Cyprus for a large protected area in the extra-territorial waters of the Mediterranean, which is a great contribution to the 30×30 goal,” said Gilberto Pichetto Fratin, the Italian environment and energy security minister at the Valore Natura conference in January 2023.
As part of the biodiversity strategy adopted by the European Union to protect the sea and marine life, EU countries must establish a marine protected area by 2030. A central element of the European Green Deal, the comprehensive long-term plan aims to conserve nature and abate the deterioration of ecosystems.
Even though the 30x30 target was established in December 2022 at COP 15 in Montreal and is part of the 2030 Biodiversity Strategy introduced by the European Union, governments have not done much to date. The goal is to protect 30 percent of land and seas by 2030.
During the Valore Natura conference in Rome, which was organized by Marevivo (a nonprofit environmental organization) and WWF Italy, the minister said that a national commission would be established to revise the Environmental Code.
“Parliament has realized the need to include environmental protection in the Constitution … There are new sensitivities. Things are changing, and in light of this, we have to rewrite the whole path,” stressed the minister.
As a part of the reform, the redesign of regulations governing the park system and its system of marine protected areas will include a simplification of bureaucratic procedures, making them less difficult to navigate.
Sense of urgency
The minister’s involvement follows requests for action by environmental groups that have highlighted the urgent need to curb overfishing and pollution.
Back in 2022, Italy amended articles in its Constitution to include the protection of biodiversity and ecosystems in its general principles. Currently, there are 29 MPAs and two underwater parks in Italy. However, with the current slow rate of change, there are doubts that targets can be met by the 2030 deadline.
“It is essential to protect our nature, our sea and our well-being,” said Luciano Di Tizio, president of WWF Italy. “We need an extraordinary commitment, which citizens are asking for and which must see the institutions play a leading role.