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Pelagos Sanctuary Agreement

L-R: First row: Delegate Ambassador for the Environment Xavier Sticker; Government Counselor and Minister of External Relations and Cooperation Gilles Tonelli, and; Fannie Dubois, Executive Secretary of the Pelagos Agreement. Second row: French minister of the Environment, Energy and the Sea, Ségolène Royal; Prince Albert II of Monaco; and Gian Luca Galletti, Italian Minister of the Environment and Territory Preservation and the Sea. The signing of a momentous agreement between France, Monaco and Italy to protect the nations’ shared marine environment took place this week at the Monegasque Ministry of State.

This agreement was formally signed in context of the Monaco Ocean Week – the eighth edition of the Monaco Blue Initiative program – in the presence of Prince Albert II and the respective French and Italian Ministers of the Environment, Ségolène Royal and Gian Luca Galletti.

The signature of the Pelagos Sanctuary Agreement allows the official recognition of the juridical status of the Permanent Secretariat of the Pelagos Agreement within the Principality of Monaco by providing headquarters in the principality and iniatiting a series of restrictions regarding the circulation of boats in France.

The Tripartite Pelagos Agreement was first signed on 25th November 1999 by France, Italy and Monaco in Rome with the goal of creating a sanctuary for marine mammals in the Mediterranean Sea, which protects them from manmade threats such as pollution, over-fishing and gaz emissions.

The Pelagos sanctuary is part of the wider efforts of the Conservation of Cetaceans in the Black Sea Mediterranean Sea and Contigous Atlantic Area (ACCOBAMS). It is the only international zone worldwide that is dedicated to the protection aquamarine mammals within 87 500 km².

The Corso-Liguro-Provençal basin is home to a fascinating number of marine animals, totaling 4% to 18% of the world’s currently known aquatic creatures. According to the sanctuary, the zone shows ‘a remarkable level of biodiversity, especially in terms of the number of predators at the top of the food chain such as marine mammals, given that the Mediterranean accounts for just 0.82% of the area and 0.32% of the volume of the world’s oceans’.

During the event, Ségolène Royal also announced the first steps towards the creation of a ‘low emission shipping zone’, which will be studied by INERIS and other scientific partners to assess its potential and feasibility. Indeed, atmospheric pollution in the region is in part due to the presence of ships, which emit sulfur oxide, nitrogen oxide and fine particles. The creation and reinforcement of the sanctuary will contribute in reducing those emissions to a lesser level and protect the flora and fauna of the area.

 

Claire Davis