Mediterranean means “Medi-terraneum”: a Sea surrounded by land and it is the largest semi-enclosed sea in the world with 46,000 km of coastline, with almost 4,000 km of length and 2,500,000 km2.

It is connected to the Atlantic Ocean through the narrow Strait of Gibraltar, to the Red Sea by the man-made Suez Canal and to the Black Sea via the Bosphorus Strait. It includes 24 countries and territories from Europe, Africa and the Middle East. The mean depth is 1,370 m and the maximum 5,210 m (Matapan, Greece).

The Mediterranean Sea is home to rare and important marine habitats (Posidonia oceanica meadows, rocky reefs, maerl beds, etc.), extensive endemism and a number of critically endangered species. It is recognized as one of the world’s 25 top biodiversity hotspots. Its biodiversity represents between 4% and 18% of the world’s known marine species, in an area covering less than 1% of the world’s oceans.


In the Mediterranean Sea marine life is heavily threatened by habitat degradation and biodiversity loss mostly due to human activities, such as fisheries, ship traffic, water pollution, coastal development and offshore oil and gas development. Today, 150 million people live on the Mediterranean coasts of the 21 countries that share the Sea, and millions of tourists visit the Mediterranean coasts every year. Also, the Mediterranean Sea is a hotspot of climate change.

Mediterranea Trends


Among the strategies identified to reverse the degradation of the world’s oceans, the Convention on Biological Diversity has set the objective of reaching at least 10% of coastal and marine areas conserved through Marine Protected Areas (Aichi objective n°11) by 2020. According to the 2012 Status of Marine Protected Areas in the Mediterranean Sea published by the MedPAN association, Mediterranean MPAs covered a mere 1.08% of the basin in 2012.

MPAs have been proved to be a powerfull tool for biodiversity protection and conservation of marine resources.


WWF has identified the Mediterranean region as a global priority place where ecological integrity must be conserved to contribute to a more secure and sustainable future for all.

The level of protection of the Mediterranean Sea is largely inadequate. In particular, Marine Protected Areas are too few, not ecologically representative of the Mediterranean biodiversity and not effectively managed.

WWF is working to establish marine and coastal protected areas to protect the most important regions for biodiversity. We promote fisheries management systems which do not adversely affect marine productivity. We try to ensure that measures against pollution agreed to in international conventions, such as the Barcelona Convention, are endorsed and implemented.

The WWF Mediterranean Initiative is pushing actors involved in marine protection towards a threshold where marine biodiversity conservation becomes a political, economic and social priority and MPAs become the tool of choice to ensure the sustainable management of marine ecosystems”.