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Mediterranean Associations call on French, Italian governments and the Principality of Monaco for the Pelagos Sanctuary



16 years after its establishment protection is still neither effective or efficient

An appeal on behalf of the Mediterranean’s most extensive (at least on paper) protected area, covering 4% of the entire basin and home to the fin whale, the sperm whale and dolphins, today addresses the governments which in 1999 signed the agreement for the establishment of the Pelagos sanctuary.

Launched today by WWF, the appeal bears the signatures of the Prince Albert II Foundation of Monaco, IUCN and MedPAN along with 17 other French, Italian and Monegasque NGOs including Greenpeace, Legambiente, Tethys, Marevivo. The agreement that established Pelagos 16 years ago is unfortunately legally weak: governance of the area does not allow for the development of a truly international form of management. Resources needed to manage the Sanctuary in an efficient and effective manner are also insufficient.

Promoted throughout the region in French and Italian, the appeal makes two requests of the three governments: that they recover the initial ambition behind the creation of the protected area, providing new impetus with renewed governance and adequate resources; that they move towards consolidating cooperation between the states, respecting international commitments and making of Pelagos an international example for the conservation of marine biodiversity. The NGO signatories to the appeal undertake to give all necessary support to the three governments and to develop common solutions for the effective management of the Pelagos Sanctuary.

The Pelagos Sanctuary is the first Mediterranean transboundary area created to protect marine mammals. France, Italy and the Principality of Monaco share its governance. Its 87,500km2 territory extends beyond the coastal zone of the three countries, making it one of the largest conservation challenges ever launched in the Mediterranean.  The Specially Protected Areas of Mediterranean Importance (SPAMI) status, assigned to the Sanctuary in 2002, highlights the importance of the protected area for Mediterranean marine biodiversity. This status is currently being reviewed. In the realistic event of a reconsideration of the status, Pelagos would become a symbol of the three States’ incapacity to come to an agreement and work jointly in order to protect our precious marine capital.


The Pelagos Sanctuary includes coastal waters and pelagic environment from the peninsula of Giens to the Fosse Chiarone in South Tuscany. It comprises numerous islands such as Corsica, North Sardinia together with smaller ones off the Ligurian coast, the Tuscan archipelago and the Straits of Bonifacio.  The Sanctuary territory extends to 87,500km2 with 2,022 km of coastline. It’s an extremely rich area for pelagic life, one of the most important in the Mediterranean basin. Among the species present in the Sanctuary are the fin whale, the sperm whale, Cuvier’s beaked whale, the long-finned pilot whale, Risso’s dolphin, the bottlenose dolphin, the common dolphin, the striped dolphin and the monk seal. Main threats to the habitat include the possible collisions with cetaceans by the boats navigating in the area, pollution and overfishing. Currently less than 5% of the Mediterranean Sea is protected, despite the international commitment (Aichi Target n. 10 of the Convention on Biological Diversity and Barcelona Convention) to reach 10 % protection of the Mediterranean by end 2020. Without the Pelagos Sanctuary less than 1% of the basin would be under protection.