The Mediterranean is the chosen holiday spot of around 320 million people every year making it one of the world’s top tourism destinations but also increasing the vulnerability of the region’s spectacular natural resources.
Ecotourism provides a promising and sustainable alternative to the devastating impacts of standard commercial mass tourism. Ecotourism destinations are natural areas which conserve the environment and sustain the well-being of local people. They create job opportunities and offer genuine interaction with places and people. The DestiMED project brings together 13 protected areas to collectively develop, manage and promote ecotourism in the Mediterranean basin. DestiMED builds on the success of MEET (Mediterranean Experience of Ecotourism), a community of protected areas managers who share standards, best experiences, capacity, expertise, and who transform their common difficulties into solutions.
Mediterranean Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) have proliferated in recent years, with positive long-term results for local communities and in particular artisanal fisheries. In the short term, however, the creation of MPAs is often subject to opposition from local fishers and their families. A team of partners from around the Mediterranean has created an innovative project which addresses existing and potential conflicts and proposes solutions, involving fishers, their communities and MPAs in a partnership for sustainability in the Mediterranean.
Read more about FishMPABlue 2.
Not long ago, it looked as if the magnificent Atlantic bluefin tuna would disappear forever from the Mediterranean. The population was crashing in the face of huge overfishing, and the remaining stocks were being badly mismanaged as authorities ignored the warnings of experts and the industry continued to catch as many fish as it could.
Fishing communities watched as their livelihoods disappeared, and conservationists worried that the species might even become extinct.
The situation seemed hopeless – but today, things are different. The population is recovering, and a healthy future for the greatest of all our fish is a possibility. This could be one of the biggest conservation victories ever achieved in our region – but if we don't act carefully now, there's still a chance we could lose all the progress we've made.
“Are you scared?” asks Vito Giovanni (Gianni) De Biasi as we bounce through gentle chop in his small fishing boat. I am getting a bit damp from the spray over the bow, but I am not scared. I shake my head, and Gianni smiles. He is clearly as content as can be – master and commander plying the coastal waters of the Adriatic on a sunny May morning.
“If I don’t go to sea every day, I go crazy,” says this lifelong fisherman. In the evenings, he makes pizzas in his hometown of Carovigno. “But at four in the morning, I want to be on my boat at sea,” he says.
This passion drove Gianni to be one of a handful of fisherman who worked with authorities to establish the rules of the game for fishing in Torre Guaceto Marine Protected Area & Nature Reserve on the northern Adriatic coast of Salento, Italy. The 2,227 hectare protected area was established in 1991, and closed entirely for fishing until 2001 to let stocks recover. Read more.
Situated on the beautiful Mediterranean coastline with its back to pine forests and face to the turquoise sea, Kaş is a place where natural assets underpin the local economy. But these same assets are threatened by over-exploitation. Can Kaş continue to charm visitors with its natural beauty, or will tourists love the place to death?
A concerned group of tour operators, hoteliers and fishermen is working with WWF to make tourism work for nature, and nature work for tourism. It starts in the sea.
Pedro Lima, actor and ambassador of WWF in Portugal, is concerned about the state of our oceans. “I love the sea and I am worried that there could be no fish left in the future for our children.” Pedro is particularly enthusiastic about WWF‘s Fish Forward project encouraging consumers, businesses and authorities in 11 european countries towards responsible consumption of fish and seafood. With “Whale“, a WWF sustainable seafood installation, WWF Mediterranean was able to reach thousands of consumers at Lisbon’s Oceanario. Already visited by 15,000 people in one week at Milan Expo, the Whale reached around 50,000 people at a stop in Barcelona, before being visited by around 600,000 people in Lisbon. "As a consumer, surfer, father of five and as a celebrity I am happy to add my voice to WWF’s messages about the responsibility of choosing wisely the fish we eat” said Pedro.
In Algeria engaging local fishermen in a booming tourist economy at Taza National Park helps to increase their income and builds their support for MPAs. Nadia Ramdane, local manager of a WWF Mediterranean project and now head of the local Fishery Department and the interim Director of Taza National Park, has spent the last 7 years working with and involving the local fishery community in the process of creating a new MPA. “It is crucial to promote alternative sustainable economic activities for fishermen” says Nadia. A pilot project at Taza means that fishermen can generate alternative income by hosting tourists onboard and promote the uniqueness of their artisanal fishing culture. The initiative is now regarded as a model by other fishing communities eager to reduce fishing effort and replenish fish stocks. “In North Africa people are really taking their futures into their own hands and valuing nature and the benefits it can bring.”