View of a natural pond of seawater in Punta de Sa Pedrera in Formentera. | Marilles Foundation

Marine protected areas are growing in number and extension in the Med but their effectiveness is far from their potential due to poor management and shortage of funding. Marilles Foundation is part of a new EU funded project which aims to fix this.

Initiatives to protect the marine environment have grown rapidly in the Med. The number of MPAs and the protected surface in sqkm grows but many of these lack management plans or enough resources to deliver conservation goals and the socio-economic benefits associated with them. In this scenario, sharing experience and best practice can accelerate implementation of plans and activities, whilst avoiding failures and double-efforts.

Marilles Foundation is partner of an ambitious Pan-Mediterranean project to improve MPAs effectiveness together with 10 Mediterranean partners, from 7 countries: Albania, Croatia, France, Greece, Italy, Slovenia, Spain and France. The 30month project will run till mid 2022 and has a budget of € 2,664,000 of which Marilles will receive € 230,000 and will contribute € 34,500.

The initiative is financed by the Interreg med program and coordinated by the Mediterranean Protected Areas Network (MedPan) which was created in 2008 with the aim to strengthen MPAs in the Mediterranean and which includes 63 member organizations and 51 associates from 20 countries. Apart from MedPan and Marilles, the other partners of the project include the Institute of Nature Conservation of Albania INCA and seven MPAs: Portofino, Torre del Cerrano, Guaceto Tower, Brijuni National Park, Port-Cros National Park, Zakynthos Marine National Park, Strunjan Landscape Park.

The goal of the project is to contribute to improve the management of the MPAs of the Mediterranean by proposing specific solutions in four areas: effective management, small-scale fisheries management, conservation of mobile species and sustainable financing.
The facilitation of exchanges between MPA managers and other actors will help capitalize on good practices and knowledge through the design of proposals to improve the effectiveness of Marine Protected Areas. Marilles tasks include applying a Natural Capital Accounting approach to an MPA in the Balearics, that is describing the MPA habitats, the ecosystems services and goods they provide and how they contribute to key economic sectors and human wellbeing. Recommendations arising from this project will be aimed at improving MPA related policies at the international, European and national levels.

Networks of MPA managers will be set and reinforced both nationally and across the Mediterranean basin. Marilles has been advancing this in the Balearic for the past two years through the ‘MPALabs’ working groups to jointly identify key interventions to improve MPAs. The Interreg MED program is an EU funded programme that supports projects that promote a sustainable use of natural resources, innovative practices and social integration. Only 13 of the 116 proposals submitted in this third call for projects of the Interreg MED program have been selected. The MPA Networks (Marine Protected Areas Working in Network) initiative led by MedPAN is one of these proposals. Over the next 32 months Marilles Foundation will make the most of it to deliver for the Balearic MPAs and beyond.