Key Threats

  • Overfishing. This is a serious threat, that not only drives the depletion of pelagic and coastal fish stocks but has an indirect impact on the entire marine ecosystem. Large quantities of sea turtles, cetaceans, sharks, and several other “flag species” are caught as bycatch. The lack of common sustainable fisheries management measures – respected and enforced by all Mediterranean fishing nations – is the most serious root cause of biodiversity loss in the ecoregion.
  • Mass Tourism and land use. Urbanization and huge tourist infrastructure developments have dramatically altered the natural dynamics of coastal/marine ecosystems, particularly in Euro-Mediterranean countries but this trend is now spreading elsewhere. Impacts include increased untreated sewage, solid waste, and energy and water consumption.
  • Pollution. The general level of pollution in the Mediterranean is very high. Most responsibility lies with Euro-Mediterranean countries, although Turkey, Tunisia, and Egypt have dramatically increased their contribution. 80% of pollution comes from land sources and includes noxious substances like pesticides, heavy metals, and endocrine disruptors. Over 500,000 tonnes of oil are also spilled at sea every year as a result of being one of the world’s most intense oil tanker traffic areas.
  • Political instability. Political instability generates conflicts of competence in government agencies, lack of management and monitoring of fisheries, and unsustainable land developments and natural resource use.
  • Climate change. The Mediterranean is warming 20% faster than the global average. Other impacts of climate change in the region include decreasing precipitation, sea-level rise, ocean acidification, sea temperature rise, and higher risks of soil degradation and erosion. These changes could exacerbate other climate-induced hazards such as droughts, floods, and fires. A combination of growing populations and the impacts of climate change could create a shortage of crucial resources jeopardizing water and food security.
    In addition, according to latest scientific reports, bottom trawling is responsible for one gigaton of carbon emissions per year globally – a higher annual total than (pre-pandemic) aviation emissions.