Background information for Maritime transport

Maritime transport is the backbone of the global economy. The sector is particularly important for the Mediterranean regiondespite covering less than 1% of the world’s oceans, the Mediterranean carries about 15% of global shipping. 

The maritime transport sector is expected to grow at a rate of 4% per annum for the next decade; shipping activity in the region is growing in terms of the number of routes, traffic intensity and size of ships. 

And with this growth will come increasing environmental impacts, such as chemical pollution, noise pollution and collisions with marine mammals. 
These environmental impacts are an issue for the whole of the Mediterranean, but it’s critical that they’re prevented – or at least minimized – in Marine Protected Areas (MPAs), which by definition are areas of great importance for marine biodiversity and ecosystems. 

Considering the growth of the sector, it’s inevitable that major commercial traffic routes will increasingly interact with MPAs and other area-based conservation measures in some Mediterranean locations, especially where vessels are approaching ports or passing through straits. 

In all MPAs, shipping activities with the most serious potential environmental impacts – such as the transport of dangerous goods or hydrocarbons – should be avoided altogether. Public authorities – from state transport agencies to port authorities – should impose a range of measures to prevent accidents and protect ecosystems. 
Cross-border, sub-regional and regional cooperation are particularly important given the scales over which the sector operates. Where there are unavoidable interactions between maritime traffic and protected areas – such as in MPAs near ports and straits, or in larger MPAs like the Pelagos Sanctuary – solutions to avoid or mitigate impacts do exist, and they should be implemented to protect the precious marine resources of the Mediterranean region. 


Main ports and annual density of cargo vessels transiting in the Mediterranean Sea. Click on the map to show a dynamic map with extra layers of traffic density from different types of ships  and their relationship with MPAs and other conservation areas

More info:
Final recommendations of the PHAROS4MPAs project regarding the maritime traffic and industrial ports sector in the Mediterranean.