Institut Océanographique de Monaco and FRB join forces for Mediterranean conservation

The Institut Océanographique de Monaco and the Fondation pour la Recherche sur la Biodiversité (FRB) are teaming up for a groundbreaking research program to protect the Mediterranean Sea. 

On Friday, July 5th, the Institut Océanographique de Monaco and the Fondation pour la Recherche sur la Biodiversité (FRB) signed a partnership agreement to launch a joint research program aimed at protecting the Mediterranean Sea. The collaboration, represented by Hélène Soubelet, General Director of the FRB, and Cyril Gomez, Deputy Director General of the Institut Océanographique, marks the beginning of a strategic initiative focused on scientific cooperation and public awareness.

A new focus on the Mediterranean

Following three years dedicated to polar regions, the Institut Océanographique will shift its focus to the Mediterranean starting in 2025. The initiative aligns with the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework’s goals, particularly Target 3, which aims to conserve 30% of terrestrial and marine areas by 2030 through Protected Areas and other conservation measures.

The program will include various tools and initiatives to engage and educate the public. An immersive and interactive exhibition on Mediterranean marine mammals will be unveiled at the Oceanographic Museum in the spring of 2025, attracting the museum’s 650,000 annual visitors. Additionally, the Mediterranean wing of the aquarium will be renovated by 2027. The FRB will lead a knowledge synthesis on Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) in the Mediterranean, guiding these efforts.

Addressing conservation challenges

Despite a consensus on the importance of MPAs, effective protection remains limited. Although 8% of the Mediterranean is designated as protected, only 0.04% of these areas have controlled management plans. The partnership with the FRB will leverage their expertise to assess the current state of MPAs, identify implementation barriers, and propose solutions, with a focus on interactions with fisheries.

Methodology and phases

The research will be conducted in two phases. The first phase involves developing a methodology to review existing literature on MPAs, providing a preliminary framework. The second phase, expected to conclude by the end of 2025, will synthesise this knowledge to support effective conservation policies.

Collaboration with key organisations

The project will build on extensive Mediterranean research conducted by key organisations like the IUCN’s Centre for Mediterranean Cooperation and WWF Mediterranean. A public-friendly version of the findings will be co-published with these partners, whose deep regional knowledge will be crucial to the project’s success.

Promoting and strengthening conservation efforts

The union of scientific and communication expertise from the four institutions aims to enhance understanding of the Mediterranean’s challenges and promote robust conservation tools. This initiative will play an active role in preserving this vital marine environment.

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Main photo: Hélène Soubelet, General Director of the French Foundation for Biodiversity Research (FRB), and Cyril Gomez, Deputy Director General of the Oceanographic Institute, Albert I Foundation, Prince of Monaco, at the Maison de l’Océan in Paris. Photo provided