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The PHAROS4MPAs project: conservation and co-management of marine protected areas considering environmental, social and economic criteria.


The SeaHealth research group of the IEA and the  Oceans and Human Health Chair participate in the European project Interreg PHAROS4MPAs. The PHAROS4MPAs project explores how Mediterranean marine protected areas (MPAs) are affected by maritime activities such as tourism, offshore wind energy, cruises and maritime transport of goods, within the framework of the so-called Blue Economy of the European Union. The project provides a set of practical recommendations aimed at the conservation and co-management of marine reserves in the Mediterranean, following environmental, social and economic criteria. In particular, the team of the University of Girona, formed by researchers from the Faculty of Sciences and the Faculty of Tourism, in collaboration with the UAB, is responsible for the coordination of the activities "Recreational fishing", "Leisure Boating" and "Scuba Diving ", and also  integrates artisanal fishing aspects. The project involves 8 European institutions and is led by WWF France. For more information, see the website  and the following section.

Blue Economy and Marine Conservation: Safeguarding Mediterranean MPAs in order to achieve Good Environmental Status

On one side, the current trend of “blue growth” in the Mediterranean Sea is accelerating at a pace of near unsustainability. On the other side, marine protected areas (MPAs), specifically established to protect marine ecosystems, processes, habitats and species represent today 7.14% of the Mediterranean basin where the objective set by the CBD is 10%.

Despite the status of MPAs to safeguard the environment, many economic sectors function within or near these protected areas.

The current EU Blue Growth strategy means that MPAs face more and more overlaps and increased requests for economic development within or near their limits, with greater pressure and impact on the marine environment. At the same time, the Marine Strategy Framework Directive requires to reach Good Environmental Status of the European Seas by 2020.

The PHAROS4MPAs project explores how Mediterranean MPAs are affected by activities in the growing Blue Economy, and provides a set of practical recommendations for regional stakeholders on how the environmental impacts of key sectors can be prevented or minimized. Encouraging international collaboration across MPA networks and cooperation between state, industry and other actors, PHAROS4MPAs aims to enhance MPA management effectiveness and improve the conservation of marine ecosystems across the whole of the Mediterranean.

PHAROS4MPAs focuses on the following sectors of the Blue Economy:

Maritime transport and industrial ports


Tour boats

Leisure boating

Offshore wind farms


Recreational fisheries

Scuba diving

Small-scale fisheries

The approach of this project is it to put all parties on an equal foot - from MPA managers, to MSP authorities and business sectors representatives - and create the conditions for a sustainable blue economy and a healthy marine environment in and around MPAs.

Outcomes include delivering common capitalization baselines, recommendations and policy tools adapted to appropriation by the MedPAN network, MSP authorities, the European Commission, the Barcelona Convention and the various maritime sectors.

The project, which runs for 18 months from February 2018 to July 2019, is co-funded by Interreg Med, a program funded by the European Regional Development Fund.


8 core partners: WWF France, Priority Actions Programme Regional Activity Centre (PAP/RAC), Regional Development Funds for North Aegean Region, Regional Agency of the Administration of Protected Areas in Albania, Institute of the Republic of Slovenia for Nature Conservation, Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche, WWF Mediterranean, University of Girona - Institute of Aquatic Ecology at the Faculty of Sciences

9 associated partners: Mediterranean Protected Areas Network (MedPAN), WWF Spain, France Energie Eolienne (FEE), Regional Marine Pollution Emergency Response Centre for Mediterranean Sea (REMPEC), Regional Activity Center for Specially Protected Areas (RAC/SPA), European Boating Industry, WWF Greece, Agence Française pour la Biodiversité -Antenne de façade maritime– Méditerranée, CPMR Intermediterranean Commission

18 months duration: Feb 2018 - July 2019

1,2 M€ project budget: 85% co-funded by Interreg Mediterranean, the European Regional Development Fund, i.e. 1,02M€

Project website :

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