Joint International Workshop on "Impact of large coastal Mediterranean cities on marine ecosystems"
20 February 2009, CIESM News

CIESM recently joined forces with ASRT (Egypt), IAEA/MEL, IFREMER (France), NIOF (Egypt), and UNEP/MAP-MEDPOL to organize an International Workshop (10-12 February 2009, Bibliotheca Alexandrina, Alexandria, Egypt) aiming to promote the sharing of experiences and tools among main Mediterranean actors to better manage the marine environment, improve the quality of marine waters and sediments in the vicinity of major cities, and exert overall a more effective control of anthropogenic pressures.

The workshop brought together some 40 “large coastal cities” experts (i.e., scientists and stakeholders) from ten Mediterranean bordering countries and relevant International Organizations. Interactive and extensive discussions led to the following agreement: i) Mediterranean cities must be reinterpreted as unique systems which encompass the marine and land domains and ii) many of the marine problems related to large cities stem from a lack of adequate knowledge regarding natural fluxes and human impacts on waters and sediments.

Thanks to the cross-basin, multidisciplinary, and interactive format of the workshop, a series of genuinely collective recommendations was formulated and became the object of a Consensus Report. Inter alia, it was agreed that special attention should be devoted to further investigate i) the inputs of chemical pollutants and litter from diffuse sources as well as their fate and impact on marine habitats and foodwebs; ii) the impact of coastal structures on the seafloor and coastal habitats; and iii) the extent (regional and/ or local) of the ecological disturbance zone around large coastal cities.

All participants agreed that regional, north-south cooperation in the domains of research and the environment represents a key factor in the context of a common Mediterranean space for science. This partnership must rely on the acquisition of harmonized, consistent, and easily accessible data and should be accompanied by a reinforced dialogue among scientists, decision makers, stakeholders, urban managers, and the large public. This participative approach represents a sine qua non condition to increase awareness and reduce pressures liable of harming the marine environment.

Legend: group picture.