The Mediterranean flora and fauna seem particularly rich.
One of the reasons for this wealth is their high rate of endemism. In addition, the Mediterranean harbours a large variety of communities. Some of them are unique, giving the Mediterranean its touch of originality. A number of these species and communities are threatened by human activities. Until recently, the legal protection of marine species mainly concerned mammals, turtles and birds. Since 1996, 55 species of Mediterranean marine macrophytes, invertebrates and fishes were registered in Appendices I and II of the Conventions of Bern and Barcelona. Of course, the protection of species is intimately linked to the protection of their habitats and resources: a number of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) were set up.
In addition to the setting up of conservatories for threatened species and habitats, the targets of MPAs are to establish no-take areas where fish density and sex-ratio make spawning possible (which subsequently export eggs, larvae and adults to surrounding non protected areas) and to manage the different uses of the sea (e.g. artisanal fishing, recreational fishing and tourism) in a rational way, so that they do not conflict with each other or with conservation aims. Furthermore, protected areas are no longer seen as “islands” of nature surrounded by incompatible resource uses but are part of a broader regional approach to land and sea management.