CoCoNet Press Release July 2014
TOURISM AND MARINE PROTECTED AREAS IN THE MEDITERRANEAN SEA
Sustainable management of tourism in Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) is one of the core issues in the Mediterranean Sea. This sea is attractive for millions of people from all over the world every year. It is well known, however, that blue crystal water of this sea is suffering from mass tourism for the last few decades.
There is no accurate information on the carrying capacity of the Mediterranean Sea for tourism. In summer season, long coasts of sandy beaches, lagoons, rocky cliffs, even caves are full of tourists. All of us cause some kind of harm to nature due to various types of activities, such as polluting water, littering coasts, anchoring on sea grass meadows. But can we continue like this forever? Surely not. We need planning and good management. We also need to develop more eco-friendly tourism.
What’s the situation of managing tourism in MPAs? Do we have special planning for that? How do MPA managers plan to reduce damage made by tourists during their visit to MPAs? How do they control core areas or buffer zones? Do they manage eco-friendly diving with special mooring system? Is monitoring of alien species or marine biodiversity a high priority or just a routine job by park rangers?
There are over 600 protected sites along the Mediterranean coast, but there is no common, integrated and unified enforcement of the tourism management by riparian countries. In fact, regional cooperation is essential without political borders to manage natural resources.
Ecotourism is growing in most part of the Mediterranean Sea since people are more conscious of environmental problems worldwide. For the moment, the Black Sea is not yet popular in this regard due to a very short tourism season and lack of regional infrastructure to attract many tourists.
Nevertheless, the concept of ecotourism agrees well with MPAs and this business has a future with many aspects in terms of job creation, creating less pollution, and education for general public, in particular young generations.
So let’s hope this summer season will be less harmful for marine natural resources and environment with more nature conscious tourists in the Mediterranean Sea.
The aim of CoCoNet is to connect and protect blue crystal waters of MPAs in the entire Mediterranean and Black Sea.