A new WWF report says the Mediterranean is quickly becoming a tropical sea, with temperatures rising 20% faster than the global average. Experts are calling for stepping up the expansion of protected areas of the sea.
A report via Kethimerini says fish of the southern Mediterranean, such as the barracuda and the dusky grouper, are migrating north. Also, more than 1,000 invasive species have already entered the Mediterranean through the Suez Canal and the Strait of Gibraltar. Giuseppe Di Carlo, Director of WWF’s Mediterranean Marine Initiative, offered this via the WWF announcement:
“The Mediterranean of today is not the same as it used to be. Its tropicalization is well under way. Climate change is not in the future, it is a reality of today that scientists, fishers, divers, coastal communities and tourists are already experiencing. There is a lot at stake for the economy and the benefits that the Mediterranean Sea provides. If we want to reverse the current trend, we must reduce human pressure and build resilience. Healthy ecosystems and thriving biodiversity are our best natural defences against climate impacts.”
These new species are crowding out local species, coral formations are being degraded and jellyfish abound, to the extent that fishermen often catch more jellyfish than fish, the report says. Of special interest is the threatening of Posidonia oceanica seagrass meadows, which may capture up to 42% of the Mediterranean states’ carbon emissions.
The WWF also released “Blueprint for a Living Planet,” which outlines four principles for integrated ocean-climate action to guide discussions going into the Convention on Biological Diversity COP15, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change COP26, and the Barcelona Convention COP22 that will take place during the second half of 2021.
The WWF and other organizations are calling on global and Mediterranean leaders to ensure that stronger biodiversity and climate actions and financial mechanisms are agreed this year.