Marine Strategy

Marine Strategy is one of the key strategies enacted by the European Parliament for the protection of marine natural resources (see website).

The European Directive, issued in 2008, acknowledges the awareness that “pressure on natural marine resources and the demand for marine ecological services are often too high” and that there is therefore a “need to reduce their impact on marine waters regardless of where their effects occur”; moreover, “the marine environment is a precious heritage that must be protected, preserved and, where practicable, restored with the ultimate aim of maintaining biodiversity and providing diverse and dynamic oceans and seas which are clean, healthy and productive”.

The European Marine Strategy is based on an integrated approach and is the environmental pillar of the European Union’s maritime policy. It sets all Member States the target of achieving good environmental status (GES) for their marine waters. Each state must therefore, for each marine region or sub-region, implement a strategy consisting of a “preparation phase” and a “programme of measures”.

The good environmental status of marine waters consists of::

<<the ability to provide ecologically diverse and dynamic oceans and seas which are clean, healthy and productive within their intrinsic conditions, and the use of the marine environment is at a level that is sustainable, thus safeguarding the potential for uses and activities by current and future generations.>>

To ensure clean, healthy and productive marine waters, it is essential that the strategies of the various countries are coordinated, coherent and well integrated with other EU legislation (e.g. transport, fisheries, tourism, infrastructure, research).

The Directive divided European marine waters into four major maritime regions:

  • Baltic Sea
  • North-East Atlantic Ocean
  • Mediterranean Sea
  • Black Sea

Some marine waters are further divided into sub-regions. Three sub-regions were identified in the Mediterranean:

a) Western Mediterranean;
b) Adriatic Sea;
c) Ionian Sea and Central Mediterranean.

The Secche Meloria MPA is part of the Western Mediterranean sub-region.

Italy is implementing the Directive through specific national legislation defined by Legislative Decree No. 190 of 13 October 2010.

The Ministry of the Environment, which is responsible for this issue, with the technical and scientific support of ISPRA (the Higher Institute for Environmental Research) has drawn up a marine strategy based on an initial phase aimed at assessing the state of the marine environment, a second phase aimed at defining specific parameters of good environmental status (GES parameters), and a final phase of identifying environmental goals to be achieved and establishing constant monitoring/control programmes (more information on the website).The parameters for assessing environmental status (GES) are defined as “descriptors”, among which the main ones concern aspects such as: marine biodiversity, the current fishing effort, trophic nets, integrity of the seabed, the presence and concentration of contaminants. However, they also include aspects that might seem secondary but that in reality are no less important for achieving truly “good environmental status” (GES), such as: underwater noise, water eutrophication, alien species introduced by human activities and climate change.

The Italian Marine Protected Areas have been identified as a fundamental part of this strategy. Indeed, they are now involved in all monitoring programmes and in the development of the parameters for assessing the state of marine environments that make up the MPAs themselves.

Since 2017, the Secche della Meloria MPA has been fully involved in the implementation of the strategy, and in fact the Marine Strategy activities have contributed to implementing the monitoring and knowledge of the environments in the MPA.

As of 2020, the main monitoring activities can be considered completed, with the collection and initial processing of data followed by studies on the environmental status of this marine area (see downloadable documents below).

The programmes for the coming years will concern specific in-depth monitoring of some specific and particular environments and related species, such as: sea urchin monitoring, chemical analysis of water columns within the different areas of the MPA, and in-depth studies of the coralligenous environment.

The need for greater and more extensive monitoring of fishing activities (within those permitted in the MPA) has also been identified, including analysis and sampling of fish stocks, as well as information/training and awareness-raising activities for those working in the sector, starting with the problem of the presence/collection/disposal of waste (plastics in particular) that is increasingly being found by fishermen.

for further informations see the downloadable DOCUMENTS :

(for details of monitoring in the MPA Secche Meloria, see the “Environmental monitoring up to 2020” and “Ongoing environmental monitoring” pages)