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The Pelagos initiative

Protection, conservation and promotion of the Pelagos Sanctuary

Covering 87,500 km2 between France, Monaco and Italy, the Pelagos Sanctuary is the first cross-border area in the Mediterranean dedicated to the protection of marine mammals. This area, which is particularly rich in plankton, is home to a remarkable biodiversity, including a large concentration of different species of whales and dolphins.

In 2021, the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation (PA2F), the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and the Mediterranean Marine Protected Areas Network (MedPAN) joined forces to create the Pelagos Initiative. This commitment from civil society will fund activities for the protection, conservation and promotion of the Sanctuary, in support of the implementation of the Pelagos Agreement management plan.

The Pelagos Sanctuary is a Specially Protected Area of Mediterranean Importance (SPAMI) which contains habitats of threatened species and which represents scientific, aesthetic, cultural and educational interest. Within the framework of the Convention for Biological Diversity and the Barcelona Convention, the States committed themselves to achieve the 11 Aïchi objective: 10% of effective protection of the sea in 2020. A target of 30% of MPAs and OECMs[1] by 2030 is currently under discussion. Even if some sites are being created, this objective is still far from being achieved: today, less than 9% of the Mediterranean Sea is theoretically under a protection status[2]. The Pelagos Sanctuary itself represents 38.9% of the protected area.

The Pelagos initiative, with the mobilisation of civil society and committed actors, could act as a lever for strengthening the protection of the Sanctuary. The territory of the Pelagos Sanctuary extends far beyond the coastal zone and the strengthening of its protection could become an example for the management of Marine Protected Areas in the open sea.

The Pelagos Initiative has the same objectives as those of the Agreement:

  • To support and promote collaborative studies and activities in the Pelagos Sanctuary in order to contribute to the conservation of marine mammals
  • To raise awareness about the Pelagos Sanctuary, its characteristics and ongoing activities by engaging the different stakeholders
  • To promote interactions and coordinate joint activities between the different Marine Protected Areas within the Sanctuary
  • To raise funds and launch calls for projects to implement the above actions and contribute to the protection and conservation objectives of the Sanctuary


[1] Other Effective Conservation Measure by Area

[2] source: MAPAMED, Mediterranean MPAs database, SPA/RAC-MedPAN, 2020