The Mediterranean Sea covers less than 1% of the global ocean, yet it hosts one of the planet’s greatest reservoirs of marine and coastal biodiversity. More than 10,000 species—nearly 30% of which are found nowhere else on Earth—live in these clear blue waters. Monk seals, sea turtles, tuna, dolphins, devil fish, and whales swim through a diversity of ecosystems along the sea’s shallow coastlines and within its deep waters.

The Mediterranean also connects more than half a billion people living throughout 21 countries and three continents surrounding the basin. Despite its economic, social, cultural, political, and biological importance, this delicate marine ecosystem faces significant threats from overfishing and other damaging fishing practices, pollution, habitat destruction, and water temperatures that are rising 20% faster than the global average amid a changing climate.

Marine protected areas (MPAs) are the primary tool for conserving marine ecosystems and can safeguard biodiversity and help build resilience against the impacts of climate change. These areas—particularly when highly or fully protected—can help safeguard biodiversity and boost fisheries and the economies that depend on them.

Today, only 0.2% of the Mediterranean’s waters are designated as fully or highly protected MPAs, compared with 2.4% of the global ocean.

Over the past decade, many countries have created large-scale, fully protected MPAs. Scientists, Indigenous peoples, community champions, nongovernmental organizations, and government leaders have called for the need to protect at least 30% of the ocean by 2030—a target many scientists say humanity must hit to secure the long-term health of our planet.

The Pew Bertarelli Ocean Legacy Project is supporting collaborative efforts to establish a science-based network of highly and fully protected MPAs in the Mediterranean that connect and protect key habitats. 

Pew Bertarelli Ocean Legacy Project

The Pew Charitable Trusts and Dona Bertarelli created the Pew Bertarelli Ocean Legacy Project, with the shared goal of establishing the first generation of ecologically significant, large, and effective marine protected areas (MPAs) around the world. Today, the Pew Bertarelli Ocean Legacy Project also seeks to connect MPAs and help conserve key migratory species and entire marine ecosystems. These efforts build on more than a decade of work by Pew and the Bertarelli Foundation, led by Dona Bertarelli, to create large-scale, highly or fully protected MPAs. Between them, they have helped to obtain designations or commitments to safeguard nearly 12.6 million square kilometers (4.8 million square miles) of ocean by working with communities, local leaders, philanthropic partners, Indigenous groups, government officials, and scientists. Dona Bertarelli is a philanthropist, investor, sportswoman, and strong advocate for ocean conservation. The Pew Charitable Trusts is driven by the power of knowledge to solve today’s most challenging problems, including the need for effective marine conservation.