EBSA workshop for the Mediterranean
The Mediterranean region comprises a vast set of coastal and marine ecosystems that deliver valuable benefits to the coastal inhabitants of the twenty one countries that border the sea, and is recognised as one the world’s 25 top biodiversity hotspots. The recent EBSA workshop, which took place in Malaga, Spain, 7-11 April 2014, highlighted the vast array of both coastal and pelagic habitats, the impressive species richness, and the high degree of endemism present. GOBI had a strong participation in the meeting.
The process to define EBSAs in the Mediterranean takes place in the context of wide regional cooperation and a long history of collaborative research. The Barcelona Convention formalised long-standing regional cooperation in marine research and management in 1982, establishing a Mediterranean Action Plan Secretariat and seven modules (a Mediterranean pollution tracking centre known as MedPol, and six regional activity centres, including the Specially Protected Areas Regional Activity Centre (RAC/SPA), which played a large part in providing data for the EBSA process.
The workshop participants had the added advantage of previous activities to define ecologically important areas carried out by RAC/SPA, including amassing information on significant ecosystems in the Mediterranean open seas, deep seas, geological features of the seabed (seamounts, mud volcanoes, canyons, and hydrothermal vents), oceanographic features such as fronts and upwelling areas, ecological features of certain vulnerable habitats (e.g. coralligenous facies, white coral communities), marine mammal, bird and marine turtle important areas, and biogeographic features of commercial pelagic species and species subject to incidental capture or by-catch (spawning and nursery areas).
Using these analyses and additional information collected by the Duke University Technical Support Team and data contributed by various organisations, the Workshop discussed and agreed on descriptions of 17 areas meeting EBSA criteria in the Mediterranean.
For a full account of the Mediterranean EBSA Workshop, please see the summer 2014 issue of the GOBI newsletter.