Joint Management Action of the European Community with the United Nations Environment Programme / Mediterranean Action Plan for identifying and creating Specially Protected Areas of Mediterranean Importance in the open seas, including the deep seas

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Long-term objective

The project aims to promote the establishment of a representative ecological network of protected areas in the Mediterranean, through the SPAMI system, in the open sea areas, including the deep seas.

In addition, it will contribute to the long-term sustainability of human activities in the region, ensuring the conservation of the biodiversity of these areas and guaranteeing the sustainable use of their marine resources.

Specific objective

The aim of the first phase of the project was to prepare a short list of Mediterranean marine areas in the open seas, including the deep seas, likely to contain sites that could be candidates for the SPAMI List. The objectives involved assessing the feasibility of identifying them, on the basis of currently available information.

The stages to implement the first phase consisted of:

(a)   An analysis of the existing information on the presence of important elements of marine biodiversity in the Mediterranean open seas and deep seas;

(b)   The definition of operational criteria for the areas selection process, harmonized with SPAMI selection criteria, and other application of operational criteria such as the Ecologically and Biologically Significant Areas (EBSAs) developed by the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD);

(c)    The implementation of a biogeographic classification process to identify the priority conservation areas in the open seas, including the deep seas;

(d)   The presentation to the Contracting Parties of the areas identified to engage process of consultation.

Assessment of key aspects of physical and ecological dynamics in the open seas as well as issues around implementation and governance, all directed toward the effective definition and application of operational criteria for the site selection process, have been addressed in the following five main activities:

-       Overview of the existing information on ecosystems of Mediterranean open seas and selection criteria to designate potential SPAMIs in those areas.

-       Study on fisheries management/conservation and step-relief areas in the Mediterranean open seas, including deep seas.

-       Description of the jurisdictional issues on the Mediterranean Sea.

-       Georeferenced compilation on bird important areas in open seas.

-       Development of a Geographical Information System for Mediterranean Open Seas.


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