Press Release

The Mediterranean still under environmental threat says new report

Press Release Published 29 Feb 2000 Last modified 28 Jun 2016
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Press release:

Copenhagen, 29 February 2000

The Mediterranean still under environmental threat says new report

Human activity, including tourism, is putting increasing pressure on the Mediterranean Sea, which is still remarkably alive in spite of many problems, according to a report recently published by the European Environment Agency.

State and pressures of the marine and coastal Mediterranean environment, prepared by the EEA and its European Topic Centre on the Marine and Coastal Environment (ETC/MCE) in co-operation with the Mediterranean Action Plan (MAP), presents an overview of the Mediterranean marine and coastal environment.

It says the open waters of the sea are generally in good condition and most of the diverse ecosystems appear to be healthy. The sea is characterised by a high diversity of marine species and is recognised as one of the richest biotopes in the world with about 8-9% of the global seas species richness.

However, the presence of so many people along the coastal zones of the sea -- either as tourists or inhabitants -- puts continuous pressure on the region, so that only a small percentage of the coastal area is in good condition, with an even smaller part adequately protected. Population increases in the countries bordering the sea, from 450 million people in 1997 to a projected 520-570 million in 2030, as well as tourism growth from 135 million visits in 1990 to as many as 235-350 million in 2025, will create strong competition for space, territory and resources between mankind and nature. On the present evidence, nature will not be the winner.

About 60% of urban waste disposed in the Mediterranean Sea is still untreated, the report says. Waters in the open sea are classified among the poorest in nutrients of the world's bodies of water. In coastal areas, the presence of pollution "hot spots", located generally in semi-enclosed gulfs and bays near important harbours, big cities and industrial areas, is probably the major problem of the sea.

The favourable climatic conditions which lure one-third of global tourism to the Mediterranean coast also provide conditions for relatively long and frequent bathing exposure and beach overcrowding, and thus the area is potentially more conducive to disease transmission and contraction than more temperate regions, such as northern Europe.

Scarce and unavailable information about various aspects of the Mediterranean are hampering any cohesive approach to understanding and then solving problems, says the document. In some cases, the information exists in reports that are considered confidential or are accessible only through long and hard administrative procedures.

Stronger international co-operation under the Barcelona Convention and through the European Communities is needed, it says, if any headway is to be made in ensuring the viable future of this important sea.

Note for the editor

Further information can be obtained from Project Manager Anita Künitzer +45 33 36 71 55,

The report is available in full text from the EEA website at under "Themes / coasts and seas"


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