The Mediterranean region is currently facing impressive growth, a real “blue Gold Rush”, which has gained speed during the ongoing economic crisis. Without a long-term vision for sustainable development, the Mediterranean Sea will not be able to sustain the region’s economies and human wellbeing.
MedTrends, an analysis recently published by WWF on the development trends in the Mediterranean, provides the first integrated picture of 10 key economic maritime activities in Croatia, Cyprus, France, Italy, Greece, Malta, Slovenia, and Spain. With a view to 2030, MedTrends illustrates and maps the current status, future development trends and the environmental impacts (to 2030) of maritime transport, tourism, oil and gas, aquaculture, fisheries, mining, coastal development, renewable energy, and land-based pollution.
Hydrocarbon exploration and drilling activities have mushroomed in the Mediterranean in recent years, even under extreme physical conditions in the deep-sea floor. Advances in seismic research and drilling technology, and the global economic crisis which has particularly hit the region, have led to a boom in exploration operations for oil and gas.
The maritime passenger transport sector in the Mediterranean Sea recorded an annual growth of 10% between 2005 and 2010, the world economic crisis having had a limited impact on embarkations since 2009. It is expected that passenger transport will continue to grow, driven by trends in tourism development.
Not surprisingly, the only sector that shows a downward trend is professional fisheries: today over 90% of fish stocks are overexploited. Conflicts for space will arise, for example between aquaculture and tourism (by far the most important industry for the Mediterranean economy with a forecast 500 million tourists by 2030) as both activities will develop on the coastline. There will also be conflict between oil and gas extraction and renewable energies as detailed in the study.
“In a ‘business as usual’ scenario, the current exploitation of maritime space and resources is simply not sustainable. The only way to ensure that the Mediterranean Sea will continue to support our national economies and to promote a sustainable blue economy is an integrated management of the maritime space”, says Giuseppe Di Carlo, Director of WWF Mediterranean Marine Initiative. “Economy, industries, governments, civil society and all stakeholders must build a vision for the Mediterranean that reconciles economic development and resource management”, adds Di Carlo.
Read more: MedTrends