Through the Protocol concerning Specially Protected Areas and Biological Diversity in the Mediterranean (SPA/BD Protocol), the Contracting Parties to the Barcelona Convention established the List of Specially Protected Areas of Mediterranean Importance (SPAMI's List) in order to promote cooperation in the management and conservation of natural areas, as well as in the protection of threatened species and their habitats. The conservation of the natural heritage is then the basic aim that must characterize the SPAMIs.
According to the provisions of the SPA/BD Protocol, SPAMIs may be established in the marine and coastal zones subject to the sovereignty or jurisdiction of the Parties and in areas situated partly or wholly on the high sea. The SPAMI's List may include sites which:
- are of importance for conserving the components of biological diversity in the Mediterranean;
- contain ecosystems specific to the Mediterranean area or the habitats of endangered species;
- are of special interest at the scientific, aesthetic, cultural or educational levels.
The SPA/BD Protocol provides the criteria for the choice of protected marine and coastal areas that could be included in the SPAMI's List (Annex I of the SPA/BD Protocol) as well as the procedure and the stages to be followed with the view of including an area in the List (read more about the procedure).
According to the provisions of the SPA/BD Protocol, all the Parties to the Protocol are committed to respecting the protection and conservation measures defined in the proposal for inclusion.
Since the 19th ordinary meeting of the Contracting Parties to the Barcelona Convention and its protocols, the SPAMI List includes 34 sites, among which one encompasses an area established also on the high sea: the Pelagos Sanctuary for marine mammals.
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