Today marks critical deadline to provide management plans for Natura 2000 areas in the Mediterranean.
The cost of non-implementation of the guidelines and action plans is approaching 50 billion € / year.
Today marks the deadline for EU Mediterranean states to provide management plans to designate Mediterranean Sites of Community Importance (SCI) as Special Areas of Conservation (SACs). It is however unclear whether these obligations have been met. Under the circumstances, Oceana has warned the EU Environment Commissioner Janez Potočnik, that the organization will not hesitate to take legal action to ensure that the Directive is fulfilled at both the EU and the national levels. Last July, Oceana requested information on the status of the designation process of SACs from France, Italy, Greece and Spain. To date, the response has been administrative silence, at what Oceana suspects may be an unprecedented infringement of the Habitats Directive.
"The success of the Natura 2000 network rests largely on whether it is properly management which guarantees the preservation of the natural heritage of Europe", explains Xavier Pastor, Executive Director of Oceana Europe. "Without proper management, species and habitats are left unprotected, especially in the case of those marine areas that are still under-represented in the Network."
According to the latest data published by the European Environment Agency (EEA) in April 2012, of the 703 Mediterranean SICs with a marine component, only four were confirmed as SACs. According to a report prepared for the European Commission, it is estimated that the cost of not implementing the nature conservation directives (Habitats and Birds) and the biodiversity conservation action plans are approaching € 50 billion / year. These costs are primarily related to the loss of biodiversity associated with cases of overfishing or the presence of invasive species.
The clear imbalance between the coverage of the marine and terrestrial Natura network (7.5% and 92.5% respectively), is alarming considering the conservation status of European seas. Furthermore, the network’s coverage in the Mediterranean scarcely represents 1% of the sea; a negligible amount when compared to the 10% minimum required by the international objectives of the Convention on Biological Diversity.
Learn more: Natura 2000 Network