The WWF has recently published an alarming report about the increasing pollution in the Mediterranean Sea due to mass tourism and the non-durable exploitation of sea-resources. The NGO has calculated the economic worth of the Area through the gross marine product (GMP), which can be compared to a country’s gross domestic product. The GMP of the Mediterranean Sea is estimated to be worth $540 billion dollars annually, which accounts for 5th largest economy in the region, after France, Italy, Spain and Turkey. If the zone only includes 1% of the world’s total ocean area, it represents 20% of the world ocean economy.
The two main economic sectors linked to the Mediterranean Sea are tourism and fisheries. The tourism represents 92% of the economy with $300 billion dollars from coastal tourism and $110 billion dollars from marine tourism. Fisheries and aquaculture on the other side account for 2% of the economic activity with $8 billion dollars annually. Other activities on the Sea are maritime traffic, oil transport, offshore gas and oil explorations. The area generates 180 000 jobs.
The WWF put forward the fact the ‘blue gold rush’ has direct consequences on the environment: Marine species have seen their populations decrease, with 41% less marine mammal and 34% less fish than 50 years ago. In terms of flora, seagrass has suffered 34% degradation in the same timeline and corals are threatened from extinction. On the other side, the sea could rise up to 25 cm by 2050.
Several directions are given in the report for a sustainable future. The reduction of the touristic footprint is a major one, through the rise of tourists’ awareness, the development of sustainable models but also communication to governments and municipalities who can act. On the other hand, sustainable fishing is also a major focus through cross-border cooperation.
The report precedes the Conference ‘Our Ocean’ organised by the European Union in Malta the 5th and 6th of October where world leaders will debate on the transforming challenges of the Mediterranean Sea.
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