Each 8 July since 2014, we celebrate the International Day of the Mediterranean Sea to remind us how important it is to raise awareness on the state of health of the Mare Nostrum and the dangers that threaten it.
The Mediterranean – which literally means “in the middle of the land” – is a sea with a high level of marine biodiversity: in fact, as the website of the Istituto Superiore per la Protezione e la Ricerca Ambientale (ISPRA) states, although it only has a surface area of about 1% of all the oceans, it is home to over 12 thousand marine species, between 4 and 12% of the world’s marine biodiversity. However, this heritage is being seriously challenged by several factors.
The main threat is plastic: some 730 tonnes of waste end up in the Mediterranean Sea every day, partly from uncontrolled coastal landfills. Then comes climate change, which has a higher impact in the Mediterranean than the world average. The temperature of the Mare Nostrum has risen by 1.5°C, with consequences for biodiversity and the marine ecosystem. Another very significant problem is the unsustainable increase in population density in coastal areas. Built-up areas within one kilometre of the sea have more than doubled, with serious effects on marine and coastal ecosystems.
Various bodies, such as ISPRA and WWF, are calling for an active commitment by all to the conservation of the varied and valuable marine biodiversity. The same idea is found in the spirit of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which aims to ensure, among other things, the conservation and sustainable use of the oceans, seas and marine resources.