The Ecosystem Approach (ECAP) has been introduced as aiming at improving the way human activities are managed for the protection of the marine environment. Following the World Summit on Sustainable Development, the ECAP has been adopted by many International Conventions and Regional Seas Organizations. The Contracting Parties to the Barcelona Convention have adopted it in January 2008 at their Almeria meeting.
In this context, any environmental policy should be developed in a way that secures an effective protection of the marine environment and that makes possible the continued provision of marine goods and services for the wealth of the population. The application of the ECAP helps reaching a balance between the requirements of human activities and the conservation of the marine environment.
To ensure the sustainability of the exploitation of marine goods and services in the Mediterranean Sea, the ECAP and its related conservation and management measures will be applied not only to areas under the jurisdiction of States, but will cover also the habitats and ecosystems located beyond the national jurisdiction. As a consequence, the implementation of the Ecosystem Approach is not only a task for the Convention and its subsidiary bodies, but also and mainly for its Parties.
Within this framework, the MAP has received funding from the European Commission to undertake a project aiming at providing support to the Barcelona Convention for the Implementation of the Ecosystem Approach, including the establishment of Marine Protected Areas in open seas areas, including deep sea.
The implementation of the road map for the application of the Ecosystem Approach to the management of human activities is on-going. Three of the seven first steps, identified to implement the road map until July 2012, are already completed. The ecological vision for the Mediterranean and the common strategic goals have been defined. The identification of important ecosystem properties and assessment of ecological status and pressures have been discussed. Thus, the preparation of the assessment document is being undertaken by a group of experts (national and international experts with the support of the MAP components). The development of a set of ecological objectives corresponding to the vision and strategic goals of the ecosystem approach and the derivation of operational objectives with indicators and target levels will follow.
Source : Atef LIMAM, SPA/RAC