Discover a Protected Area: The Mediterranean Large Marine Ecosystem and the Pelagos Sanctuary for Marine Mammals

Drakou E, Himes-Cornell A, Pendleton L, Université de Bretagne Occidentale, Insitut Universitaire Europeen de la Mer

The Pelagos Sanctuary for Mediterranean Marine Mammals is a large (~90,000km2) transboundary marine protected area (MPA) in the north-western Mediterranean Sea, between Italy, France and the Island of Sardinia, encompassing Corsica and the Tuscan Archipelago. The area contains essential habitat for a great diversity of cetacean species, and supports large populations of genetically distinct stocks. Most of the cetacean populations are seen during the months of March-April and then again around September each year.

The MPA was proposed in 1990 by the Tethys Research Institute, due to its significance as a habitat for cetacean populations. The first official step towards its establishment was taken in 1993 when the ministers of Environment of France, Italy and the Minister of State of the Monaco Principality signed a joint declaration towards the establishment of the MPA. The Sanctuary was included in the list of Specially Protected Areas of Mediterranean Importance (SPAMIs) in 2001 and in 2002 the Agreement among Parties entered into force. The area is also included in the ACCOBAMS Agreement[1] ( list of areas.

The Sanctuary has a shared governance among the three countries: 1) the headquarters are in Genova, 2) the general secretariat is a French national and 3) the Sanctuary is managed by an international body hosted in Monaco. Since 2004, the Pelagos Sanctuary has operated under a management plan aimed at sustainable use. The management plan combines the contributions of each of the parties with practical measures that must be implemented as a means for managing the marine area in the Sanctuary as a whole. The management goals of the sanctuary are to protect the cetaceans of the sanctuary, their habitats and their food-webs, with particular attention to the protection of the highly migratory cetaceans of the sanctuary.More  info at:,” and “”

[1] Agreement on the Conservation of Cetaceans in the Black Sea Mediterranean Sea and Contiguous Atlantic Area.