Tourism is a major economic asset in Mediterranean countries, with a strong emphasis on the coast, putting pressure on coastal areas. Despite environmental protection, 200 km of coastline is being developed each year and by 2025, it’s predicted that half of the coastline will be built upon, with some conurbations lasting for hundreds of km.
Pressures on the Costa Del Sol
- Growing population of coastal areas
- Development of airports, holiday resorts and general urban sprawl leading to damage to disappearance of fragile wetland ecosystems
- Poor management of coastal areas leading to change in sediment flows
- Removal of marine sediment for construction sites has damaged the sea bed
- Oil and gas infrastructure development has seen a rise in the numbers of oil tankers- about 30% of all oil transits go through the Mediterranean
- Use of chemicals in agriculture has increased river and sea pollution.
- Rising rates of eutrophication
- Industrial developments have increased chemical discharge
- Uncontrolled waste management
- Untreated water waste being discharged to the sea
- 650 tons of sewage, 129,000 tons of mineral oil, 60,000 tons of mercury, 3,800 tons of lead and 36,000 tons of phosphates are dumped in the Mediterranean annually
Shipping- it is estimated 220,000 merchant ships transporting 100 tons of material cross the Mediterranean annually.
Fish stocks- 65% of stock within the region are outside safe biological limits, and many important stocks are threatened
Industry- fish farming in the Mediterranean accounts for 30% of global fish consumption. The industry claims this reduces pressure on wild stocks, but farmed species are often carnivorous so need 5x their weight in wild fish to support them
In 1975, the Mediterranean Action Plan (MAP) was set up as part of the United Nations’ Environmental Programme (UNEP). MAP’s goal was to protect marine environments along the Mediteranean. In 1995, this was widened to include the whole coastal region.
A strategy was drawn up by 300 scientific experts in a report presented in 2006 which gave the following recommendations:
- 10% of all marine and coastal habitats should be protected, adding to 80 currently protected wetland areas
- Green areas between urban areas are to be encouraged to reduce linear development
- Reduction of linear road building
- Inland tourism should be encouraged to reduce pressure on the coast
- Future tourist development should show awareness for the environment in planning and show economic responsibility for the environment when completed
- Stricter rules to combat pollution from boats
- Improved energy management in order to reduce the need for coastal power stations
- All waste water should be fully treated before being discharged into the sea.