© Mariamichelle / Pixabay
living economy in the Mediterranean
The Mediterranean is a particular place. It corresponds to just 1% of global seas, yet it hosts a staggering amount of biodiversity in relation to its size. In fact, it is recognised as one of the 25 biodiversity hotspots of the planet. It is the cradle of some of the most ancient civilisations, and continues to this day to be a source of life for millions of people. 

More specifically, in Greece, with its intrinsic relationship to the sea dating back centuries and defining us, our harmonious coexistence with the Mediterranean, both the sea and its coasts, currently presents many challenges. This is because our activities are using increasingly more space and resources, asphyxiating the ecosystems. 

The main tool for the protection of life in the Mediterranean sea are marine protected areas (MPAs), which presently cover 9.68% of its area. The benefits gained by their effective management, as is the case with terrestrial protected areas, are not limited to the natural environment alone. On the contrary, they directly and indirectly concern and impact human health and prosperity in many ways.

Unfortunately, Blue Growth in the Mediterranean is being achieved at an unsustainable pace. Many activities take place near or even within the borders of marine protected areas, undermining the effective protection of the environment. Only if we manage the Mediterranean holistically, as a whole with regard to the area, will the natural environment and human activities be able to continue to support us and function as a base for real Blue Growth.

© Δημήτρης Πουρσανίδης / WWF Ελλάς

The Mediterranean, although corresponding to just 1% of global seas, is recognised as one of the 25 most important biodiversity hotspots on the planet.

© redcharlie / Unsplash


  • Marine protected areas cover 9.68% of the Mediterranean. In Greece, the percentage reaches 20.1%.
  • However, only 2.48% of Mediterranean MPAs have an organised management plan guiding activities within them
  • The economic value of the Mediterranean comes to $5.6 trillion.
  • 15% of global shipping crosses the Mediterranean Sea. 
  • Aquaculture accounts for half of overall Mediterranean fish production.
  • Small-scale coastal fisheries account for approximately 59% of total seafaring employment in the Mediterranean, providing approximately 134,300 jobs, representing 80% of the Mediterranean fleet.

PHAROS4MPAs website

Human pressure on the Mediterranean is more intense than ever before. Through Interreg-Med programmes such as MedTrends and PHAROS4MPAs, along with many partners from universities, research institutes and national authorities all around the Mediterranean, we explored in depth the economic figures, growth trends, and the impact of various marine activities – such as fisheries, aquaculture, shipping, tourism, cruise ships, and yachts – on ecosystems and species. You can only find solutions for humanity and nature if you gain the required knowledge.  

Furthermore, through the PHAROS4MPAs programme we explored how MPAs in the Mediterranean are impacted by the activities of seven basic sectors of the continuously growing Blue Economy (small-scale coastal fisheries, recreational fishing, aquaculture, off-shore wind farms, marine shipping, cruise ships, yachts), and we recommended a comprehensive framework of recommendations and measures for the necessary practical collaboration between MPAs, the competent authorities and the private sector as regards avoiding or minimising environmental consequences from these activities.

At the same time, we are struggling against the development of new and especially harmful activities, such as hydrocarbon extraction, which threatens both the invaluable biodiversity of the Greek seas, and the sustainability of other human activities, such as fisheries and tourism.


Without your support, we cannot continue to defend our precious natural environment and ensure a healthy future for humanity and the planet. Join us now!