Econostrum | Economic News in the Mediterranean

Look after the Mediterranean, and it will look after you

Written by Michel Neumuller, MARSEILLE on Tuesday, April 7th 2015 à 09:22 | Read 323 times

Plan Bleu has just released two reports in the first ever attempt to provide an integrated analysis to explain the relationship between the degradation of marine and coastal ecosystems and reduction of social and economic welfare in the Mediterranean.

Didier Sauzade: “The ecosystems approach takes environmental services into account, but we need more information on the marine environment.”
Didier Sauzade: “The ecosystems approach takes environmental services into account, but we need more information on the marine environment.”
European countries must reach a “Good Marine Environmental Status” by 2020 under a framework directive known as the Marine Strategy Directive. The EcAp initiative of the Mediterranean Action Plan (MAP) aims to achieve the same goal throughout the Mediterranean.

But what constitutes a "good environmental status", and under what circumstances can we achieve this? In short, where do we start?

"We need initial assessments of ecosystems and human activity, but also incentives for action. Knowing the cost of environmental degradation is one of these. To achieve this, we need to assess the services that local populations don’t have access to when the environment is degraded."

Didier Sauzade, coordinator for the “Sea” programme at Plan Bleu, recently supervised the “Economic and Social Analysis of the Uses of the Coastal and Marine Water in the Mediterranean”. This innovative collective study falls within the framework of MAP’s EcAp initiative but suffers from the lack of necessary knowledge and expertise.

"We are struggling with the limits of teh statistics currently available, most at national level onlyHowever, our ecosystems-based approach to the environment presupposes an exploration of the Mediterranean sub-basins,” continues Didier Sauzade.

This pioneering analysis work is based on the results of a European project Plan Bleu is participating in known as Perseus.

Pollution and overexploitation affect the environment and the jobs that depend on it

Look after the Mediterranean, and it will look after you
“It was necessary to identify the services provided by ecosystems and evaluate how human activities benefit from them and impact them at the same time.”
The authors of the report highlight that “fishermen are catching more fish than sustainable,which is jeopardising their reproductive capacity.” The implications for human activity are clear: an uncertain future and reliance on imports.

Tourism generates almost 8.5 million jobs, but “intensive development along coastlines has already led to significant damage to coastal ecosystems.” The report also states that “without a new model, the expected growth in the region’s tourist development will continue to worsen the situation."

20% of the world freight tonnage currently sail across the Mediterranean. This is a highly polluting activity that affects biodiversity, and all the scenarios explored show that this number will continue to grow.

Offshore production of gas and oil, which looks promising in the Aegean and Levant, carries the risk of accidents that would have immeasurable effects on the environment. These must be addressed so that decision makers can make the right choices in the future.
To evaluate environmental degradation, Plan Bleu has adopted an approach based on assessing the costs of a damaged ecosystem. Marine oil pollution will have financial consequences, “however, we would need more information to build a more accurate picture of the total costs borne by society,” insists Didier Sauzade.
Plan Bleu’s reports conclude that progress must be made to “refine this knowledge”. Economists have set out a road map to achieve this goal.

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