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The Monk Seal Alliance and The MedFund join forces with the Natural Environment and Climate Change Agency (NECCA) to strengthen conservation action in Greece


Press release


On the occasion of Our Ocean Conference taking place in Athens, the Monk SealAlliance (MSA), initiative led by the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation, and the Natural Environment and Climate Change Agency of Greece (NECCA) co-organised on April 17th a side-event entitled “Bringing the Mediterranean monk seal back home: examples of holistic action for the conservation of an endangered species”. In the presence of HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco, momentum was seized to sign partnership agreements between two initiatives of His Foundation, MSA and The MedFund, and NECCA with the aim to bolster conservation efforts for the Mediterranean monk seal and to strengthen marine protected areas in the region of Alonissos.

Protecting one of the most emblematic species: the Mediterranean monk seal

Established in 2019, the Monk Seal Alliance comprises donors dedicated to the protection of the endangered Mediterranean monk seal. Reflecting on initial projects funded, the Monk Seal Alliance has underscored the importance of coordination at all levels. While donors may support various organisations and institutions, true impact requires collaboration with national authorities. This entails co-designing and launching joint initiatives, aligning strategies with national agendas, and engaging all the stakeholders.

The collaboration between the Monk Seal Alliance and NECCA, which began in 2023 through the signature of a Memorandum of Understanding, aims to catalyse change and address conservation gaps. Recognising that NGOs and field-based organisations have limitations, particularly in the absence of comprehensive legislation, the focus shifts to advocacy and support for enforcement measures. How can donors support authorities to address enforcement challenges? How can we collectively enhance conservation efforts and facilitate the recovery and return of the monk seal in its original habitat?

The collaboration seeks to bridge gaps between conservation organisations, scientific institutions, and national authorities. By fostering dialogue and cooperation, the Monk Seal Alliance and NECCA aim to overcome obstacles and advance conservation efforts in the Mediterranean region.

This partnership represents a significant step forward in the quest to protect the Mediterranean monk seal and its habitat. Through joint initiatives and shared objectives, the Monk Seal Alliance and NECCA are committed to making meaningful contributions to the conservation of this iconic species.

Strengthening Sporades-Alonissos MPA management

The side-event was the occasion to sign a second agreement, between The MedFund and NECCA, aiming to support and boost the Sporades-Alonissos Marine Protected Area, in Greece.

Since 2021, the MedFund's Highly Protected Mediterranean Initiative has been supporting highly and fully protected marine areas. These areas provide the highest environmental and socio-economic benefits, with significant increase in biomass, size and richness of fish populations.

Covering a total area of 2,315 km2, out of which 158 km2  being under strict protection status, the National Marine Park of Alonnisos Northern Sporades is the largest nationally designed marine protected area in Greece and one of the largest in the whole Mediterranean, providing a unique habitat for many marine species including the Mediterranean monk seal.

Following the 2023 call for applications, the NECCA submitted an application for the management of the Highly Protected Area of the Sporades-Alonissos MPA, which was selected for financial support of 296,000 over a period of 5 years. This grant will enhance the efficient management of the MPA, through increased surveillance, capacity building, scientific monitoring, awareness-raising, promotion of high protection, shared governance and co-management with fishers.

The Highly Protected Marine Area initiative is funded by the Mava Foundation and Pew Bertarelli Ocean Legacy. The MedFund currently supports around 200 km²of Highly Protected Areas through this program, which represents almost 20% of the total area of Highly Protected Areas in the Mediterranean.

Photo credit: ©Axel Bastello / Palais Princier de Monaco