This research aims to define for the first time levels and patterns of different litter groups (macro, meso and microplastics) in sediments from a marine area designed for the institution of a new marine protected area (Aeolian Archipelago, Italy). Microplastics resulted the principal group and found in all samples analyzed, with shape and colours variable between different sampling sites. MPs levels measured in this study are similar to values recorded in harbour sites and lower than reported in Adriatic Sea, while macroplastics levels are notably lower than in harbor sites. Sediment grain-size and island extent resulted not significant in determining levels and distribution of plastic debris among islands. In the future, following the establishment of the MPA in the study area, these basic data will be useful to check for potential protective effects on the levels and distribution of plastic debris.
The Directive of the European Parliament and the Council of July 2014 established a Guideline Framework for maritime spatial planning. Within this context, Greece has to proceed and incorporate it in the national legislation framework within two years; it has also to determine a competent authority (or authorities) for its implementation so that maritime spatial plans can be enacted at the latest by March 2021. The Directive aims to promote sustainable development of marine areas and equitable use of marine resources. This paper attempts to discuss key issues anticipated to emerge from the incorporation of an integrated framework for maritime spatial planning on the national spatial planning framework as it is currently organized. Crete island is here chosen as a case study area so that priority issues that are expected to come up at regional and local level can be examined in more detail.
Ocean acidification (OA) is increasingly recognized as a major global problem. Despite the scientific evidence, economic assessments of its effects are few. This analysis is an attempt to perform a national and sub-national assessment of the economic impact of OA on mollusc production in Europe. We focus on mollusc production because the scientific evidence on the biological impact on calcifying organisms is ample relative to other types of marine organisms. In addition, Europe and its regions are significant producers of marine molluscs. By performing a partial-equilibrium analysis, we show that the highest levels of overall impact are found in the countries with the largest current production, such as France, Italy and Spain. For Europe as a whole, the annual impact will be over 1 billion USD in 2100. Due to the different production foci of the individual countries and their regions, the distribution of the impact is extremely uneven across countries and their respective regions, with the most affected sub-national regions being those on the Atlantic coast of France, which is an important region for oyster production.
The deployment of Hybrid Offshore Wind and Wave Energy Systems (HOWiWaES) towards the simultaneous exploitation of the corresponding offshore renewable energy sources, may efficiently address the common challenge of the offshore wind and the wave energy sector to reduce their costs, with multiple additional benefits. A prerequisite at an early stage of the realization of a HOWiWaES project is the determination of marine areas suitable for the deployment of HOWiWaES. In the present paper, a methodological framework for identifying the most appropriate marine areas in Greece towards the deployment/siting of HOWiWaES is developed and presented. The framework is based on the combined use of multi-criteria decision making methods and Geographical Information Systems (GIS). At the first stage of the analysis, the unsuitable for the deployment of HOWiWaES marine areas are identified through the development of a GIS database that produces thematic maps representing exclusion criteria related to utilization restrictions as well as to economic, technical and social constraints. Then, at the second stage of the analysis, eligible marine areas not satisfying exclusion criteria are evaluated and ranked using the Analytical Hierarchy Process (AHP), based on evaluation criteria related to economic, technical and socio-political factors. The AHP's implementation is supported by the developed GIS database, eliminating significantly the subjectivity in judgments. The results of the paper illustrate the potential for deploying HOWiWaES in Greece, especially in the offshore areas of Crete and in a lengthwise zone extended from North-central to central Aegean.
In the past three years, the MEET project supported 25 Protected Areas (PAs) in the Mediterranean region in their sustainable tourism development and in the improvement of their ecotourism offers. Building on the knowledge, experiences and lessons learned from these PAs belonging to 10 countries of the Mediterranean (Italy, France, Spain, Jordan, Lebanon, ROWA, Malta, Cyprus, Greece and Tunisia), the MEET Network has released the “MEET Manual – A guide to discover the MEET approach”. The main objective of this manual is to provide local people, businesses, NGOs and especially protected area managers with a clear pathway to plan and improve ecotourism in their territory.
By reading this Manual you will acquire many useful tips about how to create and develop successful Mediterranean ecotourism related products and activities. Indeed, you will learn about what it takes to establish a local cluster of complementary partnerships. This will help you increase the number of visitors to your area, while conserving your protected area in a way that meets the MEET criteria and it will also make you eligible to become a partner of the MEET Network!
The Manual is the result of a process of collaboration that began in 2011 and finalized in 2015 within the framework of the Mediterranean Experience of Ecotourism — MEET Project.
Increasing greenhouse gas concentrations are expected to have a significant impact on world climate over a short time scale. The world’s atmosphere and oceans are warming, and the most immediate effects of this on the marine environment include rising sea levels, higher seawater temperatures and acidification, more frequent extreme events and changes in oxygen levels or deoxygenation processes (IPCC Fourth Assessment Report, 2007). Due to these pressures and ecosystem responses, climate change is now considered a major driver of biodiversity change and loss. Its importance has been highlighted by several international conventions and treaties, including the Convention on Biological Diversity and the Kyoto Protocol. The latest assessment by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) found that the Mediterranean will be strongly affected by climate change over the course of this century. The oceanographic and physical aspects of climate change in the Mediterranean have been described in many reports and scientific studies, although uncertainty remains about the degree of physical and chemical change expected at sub-regional and local scales (Lionello, 2012). Despite its importance for biodiversity conservation, little is yet known about the biological impact of climate change on Mediterranean coastal and marine biodiversity at all levels, as much of the current understanding is based on models, very few studies and discontinuous data mainly from the north-western part of the Mediterranean Sea (CIESM, 2008; Lejeusne et al., 2009; Coll et al., 2010; UNEP-MAP-RAC/SPA, 2010). Basin-wide monitoring and information gathering on key Mediterranean species and ecosystems therefore remains crucial for mitigating climate change effects and adapting to them. Furthermore, the region’s marine and coastal environments are increasingly threatened by the impacts of a growing population and rising demand for natural resources. The combination of these pressures is likely to exacerbate the consequences of climate change. To address the impact of climate change on biodiversity, the Strategic Action Programme for the Conservation of Biological Diversity (SAP BIO) in the Mediterranean Region set up under the Barcelona Convention Mediterranean Action Plan (MAP) in 2003, was updated on climate change issues in 2009; In addition, the Almeria Declaration was adopted at the 15th Ordinary Meeting of the Contracting Parties to the Barcelona Convention in 2008 to provide an action framework for Mediterranean countries. From a coastal perspective, the Mediterranean ICZM Protocol1 also provides a platform to mainstream climate change adaptation into the policies and governance of coastal management. At EU level, the Commission recently adopted a Strategy on Adaptation to Climate Change in April 2013 to promote greater coordination and information sharing among Member States, and to ensure that adaptation considerations are addressed in all relevant EU policies.Basin-wide monitoring has to be developed to assist with the above protocols and strategies. It may be easier to observe climate change effects in protected areas as they are normally better shielded from anthropogenic impacts than other areas, and therefore there is likely to be less interference from other causes of change. In this regard, Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) in the Mediterranean can play an important role as ‘sentinel sites’, where the effects of climate change can be studied and management strategies can be developed to adapt to, and wherever possible counter, such negative effects. Individual MPAs and the Mediterranean MPA network therefore have an important role to play in enhancing our understanding and helping to develop strategies to mitigate climate change effects. Not only can climate change be monitored in MPAs throughout the Mediterranean as a way of improving our understanding and management of its effects, but it is also becoming a growing challenge to the management of the MPAs themselves. There are currently 675 MPAs in the Mediterranean, covering a total area of almost 114,600 km², about 4.6% of the Mediterranean Sea, or just 1.1% if we exclude the Pelagos Sanctuary (87,500 km²), which alone accounts for 3.5% (Gabrié et al., 2012). Direct evidence of the effects of climate change is already being observed at some sites (Bensoussan et al., 2010; Crisci et al., 2011; Cebrian et al., 2011). However, climate change is still not explicitly incorporated in most MPA management plans and future assessment of MPA performance will need to take these effects into account. Overall, at the Mediterranean regional level, few programmes aim to assess the impacts of climate change on marine biodiversity or to support adaptation planning in MPAs and other areas of conservation value. In a global context, Marine Protected Areas increase the adaptive capacity of coastal and marine communities and buffer potential climate change impacts. Building the capacity of MPAs through data collection, monitoring and awareness-raising about climate change contributes to the efforts being made across the region to improve information and adapt to change. Moreover, information about the impact of climate change on biodiversity will provide the evidence required to justify investment in mitigation and adaptation measures. Finally, climate change monitoring programmes can furnish valuable baseline information that can feed into current efforts to evaluate the impact of climate change by the end of the current century. Since the impact risk will depend on the areas considered, these efforts will allow resources to be allocated to those areas that are expected to suffer the most. Climate change needs to be taken into consideration in all MPA management plans. Incorporating it into MPA monitoring does not require expensive equipment or highly technical abilities. It can further help managers understand the vulnerabilities and diverse responses of their marine communities at different sites and revise MPA zoning and management accordingly. There may also be opportunities to include monitoring actions in MPA management plans and to link them to existing climate and oceanographic monitoring programmes in the Mediterranean region and Europe. Within the framework of the MedPAN Association and the MedPAN North project, IUCN Med in collabora tion with RAC/SPA is addressing the impact of climate change on Mediterranean MPAs with the long-term aim of building a strategy for assessing and minimizing the risk posed by climate change to marine and coastal ecosystems. This work will build towards the mediumterm goals of the SAP BIO Programme at the Mediterranean level (UNEP-MAP-RAC/SPA, 2009), which include improving coordinated actions across Mediterranean MPAs, informing adaptive approaches to climate change for effective MPA management, initiating a climate alert warning system at different geographical scales and reducing vulnerability within MPAs. A key goal of this programme is to identify the most appropriate parameters for monitoring climate change impacts on biodiversity in these MPAs at a Mediterranean scale. That will enhance our understanding of how marine communities respond and help managers assess the condition of their sites and the environmental changes that are occurring there. To address this goal we organized several meetings to bring together climate change researchers, biodiversity scientists and protected area stakeholders covering a wide range of expertise. The resulting discussions and the work conducted since then have been compiled into this guide for Mediterranean MPA managers. It aims to give some guidance on how to measure the impact of climate change on the marine biodiversity of protected areas and how to improve planning for the mitigation of future impact. It also summarizes the most important threats to and effects on Mediterranean marine biodiversity that have been observed to date and outlines the many uncertainties that still exist in understanding ecological responses to climate change. The guide is thus intended as an aid and managers may choose to use any of the several different monitoring plans and indicators outlined, depending on their particular circumstances and management objectives.
Surface analytical methods are applied to examine the environmental status of seawaters. The present overview emphasizes advantages of combining surface analytical methods, applied to a hazardous situation in the Adriatic Sea, such as monitoring of the first aggregation phases of dissolved organic matter in order to potentially predict the massive mucilage formation and testing of oil spill cleanup. Such an approach, based on fast and direct characterization of organic matter and its high-resolution visualization, sets a continuous-scale description of organic matter from micro- to nanometre scales. Electrochemical method of chronoamperometry at the dropping mercury electrode meets the requirements for monitoring purposes due to the simple and fast analysis of a large number of natural seawater samples enabling simultaneous differentiation of organic constituents. In contrast, atomic force microscopy allows direct visualization of biotic and abiotic particles and provides an insight into structural organization of marine organic matter at micro- and nanometre scales. In the future, merging data at different spatial scales, taking into account experimental input on micrometre scale, observations on metre scale and modelling on kilometre scale, will be important for developing sophisticated technological platforms for knowledge transfer, reports and maps applicable for the marine environmental protection and management of the coastal area, especially for tourism, fishery and cruiser trafficking.
The continuous development of Spatial Data Infrastructures (SDI) provides a favourable context for environmental management and planning. However, it appears that the actual contribution of SDIs should also depend on the correlation between users’ expectations and the services delivered to them. Several studies have addressed some organizational, methodological and technological aspects of the development of SDIs. However, only a few studies have, to the best of our knowledge, studied SDI use at large. This article introduces a methodological approach oriented towards the study of the relationship between SDIs and the users interacting with them as part of their professional practices. Our study is applied to coastal zone management and planning in France. This approach combines structural and data flow modelling. The former is based on Social Network Analysis (SNA) and the latter on Data Flow Diagrams (DFD). This modelling approach has been applied to an online questionnaire and semi-structured interviews. The results identify the SDIs, geographical data flows and institutional levels implied in French coastal zone management and planning.
Biological invasions are major contributors to global change and native biodiversity decline. However, they are overlooked in marine conservation plans. Here, we examine for the first time the extent to which marine conservation planning research has addressed (or ignored) biological invasions. Furthermore, we explore the change of spatial priorities in conservation plans when different approaches are used to incorporate the presence and impacts of invasive species.
Global analysis with a focus on the Mediterranean Sea region.
We conducted a systematic literature review consisting of three steps: (1) article selection using a search engine, (2) abstract screening and (3) review of pertinent articles, which were identified in the second step. The information extracted included the scale and geographical location of each case study as well as the approach followed regarding invasive species. We also applied the software Marxan to produce and compare conservation plans for the Mediterranean Sea that either protect, or avoid areas impacted by invasives, or ignore the issue. One case study focused on the protection of critical habitats, and the other on endemic fish species.
We found that of 119 papers on marine spatial plans in specific biogeographic regions, only three (2.5%) explicitly took into account invasive species. When comparing the different conservation plans for each case study, we found that the majority of selected sites for protection (ca. 80%) changed in the critical habitat case study, while this proportion was lower but substantial (27%) in the endemic fish species case study.
Biological invasions are being widely disregarded when planning for conservation in the marine environment across local to global scales. More explicit consideration of biological invasions can significantly alter spatial conservation priorities. Future conservation plans should explicitly account for biological invasions to optimize the selection of marine protected areas.
Within the framework of ecosystem-based management, restoration appears as a sensible option to counteract the global decline of coral reefs. Several techniques involving sexual and asexual coral propagules have been used for the restoration of reefs. Culturing of fragments has proved fruitful since it takes advantage of the capability of corals to asexually reproduce, providing a number of novel colonies that can be replanted. This method however, when using fragments detached from a colony, might be stressful for the wild donor. Astroides calycularis is an endemic and endangered Mediterranean scleractinian coral forming massive colonies mostly at shallow depth. It is subject to anthropogenic impact, particularly from damage due to accidental contacts by SCUBA divers, and it is expected to suffer from sea storms of increasing power under the projected climate change scenarios. Corals of opportunity (i.e. dislodged colonies found alive on the seabed) may be a useful resource for the restoration of A. calycularis reefs, given that the fragment-based transplant technique is effective for this species as it is for other massive corals. A one-year transplant experiment was carried out along an exposed rocky shore in NW Sicily (Mediterranean Sea) to test the feasibility of using fragments of corals of opportunity for restoration purposes. The transplants revealed high survival rates and higher number of new polyps than in control colonies. The original size of transplanted fragments did not influence their capability to bud new polyps and was not related to their survival rate. The applied technique provides the opportunity to restore rocky reefs, even the very shallow ones, through direct transplant of coral fragments, thus making reef restoration a feasible option in ecosystem-based management plans for this species.
Submarine canyons are major geomorphic features of continental margins around the world. Several recent multidisciplinary projects focused on the study of canyons have considerably increased our understanding of their ecological role, the goods, and services they provide to human populations, and the impacts that human activities have on their overall ecological condition. Pressures from human activities include fishing, dumping of land-based mine tailings, and oil and gas extraction. Moreover, hydrodynamic processes of canyons enhance the down-canyon transport of litter. The effects of climate change may modify the intensity of currents. This potential hydrographic change is predicted to impact the structure and functioning of canyon communities as well as affect nutrient supply to the deep-ocean ecosystem. This review not only identifies the ecological status of canyons, and current and future issues for canyon conservation, but also highlights the need for a better understanding of anthropogenic impacts on canyon ecosystems and proposes other research required to inform management measures to protect canyon ecosystems.
Management of Marine Protected Areas: A Network Perspective draws on the results of a major EU-sponsored research project related to the establishment of networks of MPAs in the Mediterranean and Black Seas that transpired from February 2011 to January 2016. Featuring contributions by leading university- and national research institute-based scientists, chapters utilize the latest research data and developments in marine conservation policy to explore issues related to ways in which networks of MPAs may amplify the effectiveness and conservation benefits of individual areas within them. Topics addressed include the broader socio-economic impacts of MPAs in the Mediterranean and Black Seas; the use of Marine Spatial Planning (MSP) to resolve conflicts between marine resource use and protection; special protection measures under the EU’s Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD); ecological value assessments in the Black Sea; the Ecosystem Approach (EA) for managing marine ecosystems; MPAs along Turkey’s Black Sea coast; MPAs and offshore wind farms; and managing and monitoring MPA networks within and between the Black and Mediterranean Seas.
We assessed how establishment patterns of non-native freshwater, marine and terrestrial species into Northwest Europe (using Great Britain, France, Belgium and the Netherlands as the study countries) have changed over time, and identified the prevalent pathways and vectors of recent arrivals. Data were extracted from 33 sources on (a) presence/absence and (b) first year of observation in the wild in each country, and (c) continent(s) of origin, (d) invasion pathway(s), (e) invasion vector(s) and (f) environment(s) for 359 species, comprising all non-native Mollusca, Osteichthyes (bony fish), Anseriformes (wildfowl) and Mammalia, and non-native invasive Angiospermae present in the area. Molluscs, fish and wildfowl, particularly those originating from South America, arrived more recently into Northwest Europe than other groups, particularly mammals, invasive plants and species originating from North America. Non-deliberate introductions, those of aquatic species and those from elsewhere in Europe and/or Asia increased strongly in importance after the year 2000 and were responsible for 69, 83 and 89 % of new introductions between 2001 and 2015, respectively. Non-deliberate introductions and those from Asia and North America contributed significantly more to introductions of invasive species in comparison to other non-native species. From the 1960s, ornamental trade has increased in importance relative to other vectors and was responsible for all deliberate introductions of study groups since 2001. Non-deliberate introductions of freshwater and marine species originating from Southeast Europe and Asia represent an increasingly important ecological and economic threat to Northwest Europe. Invertebrates such as molluscs may be particularly dangerous due to their small size and difficulties in detection. Prevention of future invasions in this respect will require intensive screening of stowaways on boats and raising of public awareness.
We depict the relative sea-level rise scenarios for the year 2100 from four areas of the Italian peninsula. Our estimates are based on the Rahmstorf (2007) and IPCC-AR5 reports 2013 for the RCP-8.5 scenarios (www.ipcc.ch) of climate change, adjusted for the rates of vertical land movements (isostasy and tectonics). These latter are inferred from the elevation of MIS 5.5 deposits and from late Holocene sea-level indicators, matched against sea-level predictions for the same periods using the glacio-hydro-isostatic model of Lambeck et al. (2011). We focus on a variety of tectonic settings: the subsiding North Adriatic coast (including the Venice lagoon), two tectonically stable Sardinia coastal plains (Oristano and Cagliari), and the slightly uplifting Taranto coastal plain, in Apulia. Maps of flooding scenarios are shown on high-resolution Digital Terrain Models mostly based on Lidar data. The expected relative sea-level rise by 2100 will change dramatically the present-day morphology, potentially flooding up to about 5500 km2 of coastal plains at elevations close to present-day sea level.
The subsequent loss of land will impact the environment and local infrastructures, suggesting land planners and decision makers to take into account these scenarios for a cognizant coastal management. Our method developed for the Italian coast can be applied worldwide in other coastal areas expected to be affected by marine ingression due to global climate change.
This paper describes an open source suite of libraries and tools to support research activities on marine and coastal environment. The suite was initially implemented for the ADRIPLAN portal, an integrated web platform aimed at supporting Maritime Spatial Planning (MSP) activities and other activities concerning the managing of marine environment for the Adriatic-Ionian region. The main elements of the implemented solutions are: i) a GeoNode implementation for sharing geospatial datasets and maps; ii) a new python library (RectifiedGrid) that facilitates the work with geographical grid data; iii) a new python library (Tools4MSP) to perform spatial analysis and assessment of human uses, pressures and the potential impact of maritime and coastal activities on the environment; iv) a new GeoNode plugin (called GeoNode-Tools4MSP) that provides interactive widgets to set up the analyses and to visualize and explore the results. The Tools4MSP and the developed software have been released as FOSS under the GPL3 license and are currently under further development.
The study of marine soundscapes is an emerging field of research that contributes important information about biological compositions and environmental conditions. The seasonal and circadian soundscape trends of a marine protected area (MPA) in the Mediterranean Sea have been studied for one year using an autonomous acoustic recorder. Frequencies less than 1 kHz are dominated by noise generated by waves and are louder during the winter; conversely, higher frequencies (4–96 kHz) are dominated by snapping shrimp, which increase their acoustic activity at night during the summer. Fish choruses, below 2 kHz, characterize the soundscape at sunset during the summer. Because there are 13 vessel passages per hour on average, causing acoustic interference with fish choruses 46% of the time, this MPA cannot be considered to be protected from noise. On the basis of the high seasonal variability of the soundscape components, this study proposes a one-year acoustic monitoring protocol using the soundscape methodology approach and discusses the concept of MPA size.
The tourist development along the Mediterranean coast, especially on the coast of Spain, France and Italy, has caused a huge urban expansion and consolidation of a highly densified harbour front. The environmental consequences should bring about the future growth of the existing system of ports through its re-qualification development. The article provides a list of 6 strategies for the future improvement of ports that correspond to the areas of research in the international port literature. These ideas had been deeply developed in previous works from different disciplines, but they are now put together in order to offer a general vision of the debate: (1) marine strategy and integrated coastal management, (2) sustainable port infrastructures, (3) port networking initiatives, (4) regionalization of ports, (5) urban and landscape connectivity, and (6) social integration of ports. The text collects some literature on each of the views and suggests throughout the topics some ideas to be considered for existing ports in general and specifically for the Spanish Mediterranean ports.
Although some stocks are being severely exploited by recreational fishing, estimating the biomass extracted (harvest, H) by recreational fisheries is difficult, especially for marine recreational fisheries. One way to estimate H by recreational fisheries is to combine the fishing effort (E) with catch-per-unit-of-effort (CPUE) data. However, naively ignoring heterogeneity in E and CPUE may result in biased and imprecise estimates of H. We propose a framework to address three relevant heterogeneity levels: the spatial and temporal heterogeneity of recreational E, environmental effects on recreational CPUE, and the variability in angler skills (between-angler heterogeneity). Specifically, we combine (i) space-time model predictions of E (number of boats per km2) on the day scale (i.e., fishing trips), (ii) environmentally driven model predictions of daily catch (number of squid per fishing trip), and (iii) off- and on-site surveys to account for angler heterogeneity. The precision of the H estimates was assessed using bootstrap confidence intervals. This framework was applied to the recreational fishery for the squid Loligo vulgaris at Palma Bay (Mallorca Island, western Mediterranean). The estimated effort was 15,750 angler-fishing trips (95% CI: 13,086 to 18,569), which yielded an annual harvest of 20.6 tons (95% CI: 16.9–24.5). This harvest was estimated to represent 34% of the total commercial landings in Mallorca, which highlights the importance of recreational harvesting and the need to account for recreational fisheries to improve squid stock management. The framework proposed here provides a promising tool for estimating H in other heterogeneous recreational fisheries and may be the first step toward assessing the actual impact of recreational fisheries on squid populations.
The use of rigorous methodologies to assess environmental, social and health impacts of specific interventions is crucial to disentangle the various components of environmental questions and to inform public opinion. The power of systematic maps relies on the capacity to summarise and organise the areas or relationships most studied, and to highlight key gaps in the evidence base. The recent Italian technical referendum (2016) – a public consultation inviting people to express their opinion by voting to change the rules on the length of licence duration and the decommissioning of offshore oil and gas platform drilling licences – inspired the creation of a systematic map of evidence to scope and quantify the effects of off-shore extraction platforms on Mediterranean marine ecosystems. The map was aimed as a useful model to standardise a “minimal informational threshold”, which can inform public opinion at the beginning of any public consultation. Produced by synthesising scientific information, the map represents a reliable layer for any future sustainable strategy in the Mediterranean basin by: (i) providing a summary of the effects of marine gas and oil platforms on the Mediterranean marine ecosystem, (ii) describing the best known affected components on which the biggest monitoring efforts have been focused, and (iii) strengthening the science-policy nexus by offering a credible, salient and legitimate knowledge baseline to both public opinion and decision-makers. The map exercise highlights the knowledge gaps that need filling and taking into due consideration before future transnational and cross-border monitoring and management plans and activities can be addressed.
The ocean and seas are of great value. They provide important benefits to people including food, oxygen, economic opportunities, recreation, and cultural value. However, heavy uses of the ocean are eroding these benefits, sometimes at alarming rates. Marine protected areas (MPAs) can be a powerful tool to protect, and possibly restore, the ability of ecosystems to provide these benefits. Globally, there are thousands of MPAs, though their collective area is small. What have we learned from these protected places? This booklet summarizes the latest science about MPAs, emphasizing the Mediterranean Sea. There are many terms for MPAs, reflecting different levels of protection, history, governance, management authority, and more. In this booklet, we simplify these categories by focusing only on the degree of protection from extractive uses. We define MPAs and classify them as follows: Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) are places in the sea designed to protect marine species and ecosystems, while sometimes allowing for sustainable uses of marine resources within their boundaries. An MPA can be 1) partially protected, where some uses are prohibited but some extractive activities are allowed and regulated, or 2) fully protected, where all extractive and destructive activities are forbidden, except as needed for scientific monitoring. Fully protected areas are also called no-take areas. A multiple-use area can combine partially and fully protected areas in different zones. MPAs can help support livelihoods and preserve cultural values. Full protection from extractive activities usually leads to much greater long-term ecological, economic, and social benefits than only partial or no protection. Emerging evidence suggests that large, fully protected areas can provide resilience to climate change and other environmental threats. Regardless of the level of protection, an MPA must have strong compliance and enforcement to successfully meet its goals. MPAs can be an effective tool for conservation and management, but they cannot address all threats to marine life. Parallel actions are needed to make fishing and aquaculture sustainable, address climate change and ocean acidification, and reduce pollution from plastics, nutrients, and chemicals. Science shows what MPAs can provide and offers useful information for planning MPAs.