Identifying Priorities for the Protection of Deep Mediterranean Sea Ecosystems Through an Integrated Approach

Type Article
Date 2021-07
Language English
Author(s) Fanelli Emanuela1, 2, Bianchelli Silvia1, Foglini Federica3, Canals Miquel4, Castellan Giorgio3, Güell-Bujons Queralt4, 5, Galil Bella6, Goren Menachem6, Evans Julian7, Fabri Marie-ClaireORCID8, Vaz SandrineORCID9, Ciuffardi Tiziana10, Schembri Patrick J.7, Angeletti Lorenzo3, Taviani Marco2, 3, 11, Danovaro Roberto1, 2
Affiliation(s) 1 : Department of Life and Environmental Sciences, Polytechnic University of Marche, Ancona, Italy
2 : Stazione Zoologica Anton Dohrn, Naples, Italy
3 : Institute of Marine Sciences, National Research Council (CNR-ISMAR), Bologna, Italy
4 : GRC Geociències Marines, Departament de Dinàmica de la Terrai de l’Oceà, Facultat de Ciències de la Terra, Universitat de Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain
5 : Department of Marine Biology and Oceanography, Institut de Ciències del Mar (ICM-CSIC), Barcelona, Spain
6 : The Steinhardt Museum of Natural History, Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv-Yafo, Israel
7 : Department of Biology, University of Malta, Msida, Malta
8 : Ifremer, Centre de Méditerranée, La Seyne-sur-Mer, France
9 : MARBEC, Ifremer, CNRS, IRD, University of Montpellier, Sète, France
10 : Santa Teresa Marine Environment Research Centre, ENEA, La Spezia, Italy
11 : Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Woods Hole, MA, United States
Source Frontiers In Marine Science (2296-7745) (Frontiers Media SA), 2021-07 , Vol. 8 , N. 698890 , P. 16p.
DOI 10.3389/fmars.2021.698890
WOS© Times Cited 13
Keyword(s) biodiversity hotspots, deep-sea ecosystems, multicriteria decision analysis, expert evaluation, marine protected areas, Marine Strategy Framework Directive, Mediterranean Sea, protection guidelines

Benthic habitats of the deep Mediterranean Sea and the biodiversity they host are increasingly jeopardized by increasing human pressures, both direct and indirect, which encompass fisheries, chemical and acoustic pollution, littering, oil and gas exploration and production and marine infrastructures (i.e., cable and pipeline laying), and bioprospecting. To this, is added the pervasive and growing effects of human-induced perturbations of the climate system. International frameworks provide foundations for the protection of deep-sea ecosystems, but the lack of standardized criteria for the identification of areas deserving protection, insufficient legislative instruments and poor implementation hinder an efficient set up in practical terms. Here, we discuss the international legal frameworks and management measures in relation to the status of habitats and key species in the deep Mediterranean Basin. By comparing the results of a multi-criteria decision analysis (MCDA) and of expert evaluation (EE), we identify priority deep-sea areas for conservation and select five criteria for the designation of future protected areas in the deep Mediterranean Sea. Our results indicate that areas (1) with high ecological relevance (e.g., hosting endemic and locally endangered species and rare habitats),(2) ensuring shelf-slope connectivity (e.g., submarine canyons), and (3) subject to current and foreseeable intense anthropogenic impacts, should be prioritized for conservation. The results presented here provide an ecosystem-based conservation strategy for designating priority areas for protection in the deep Mediterranean Sea.

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Fanelli Emanuela, Bianchelli Silvia, Foglini Federica, Canals Miquel, Castellan Giorgio, Güell-Bujons Queralt, Galil Bella, Goren Menachem, Evans Julian, Fabri Marie-Claire, Vaz Sandrine, Ciuffardi Tiziana, Schembri Patrick J., Angeletti Lorenzo, Taviani Marco, Danovaro Roberto (2021). Identifying Priorities for the Protection of Deep Mediterranean Sea Ecosystems Through an Integrated Approach. Frontiers In Marine Science, 8(698890), 16p. Publisher's official version : , Open Access version :