Exhibition: Time for action

Time for action: the Mediterranean Marine Protected Areas

This exhibition was designed and produced by the Société des Explorations de Monaco, in collaboration with its partners involved in the development and effective management of Marine Protected Areas in the Mediterranean: SPA/RAC, The MedFund, MedPAN and the Monk Seal Alliance. Marine Protected Areas are the common thread running through Monaco Explorations Mediterranean Missions, announced in April 2024 in Barcelona, on the occasion of the Second Conference of the United Nations Decade of Ocean Sciences for Sustainable Development (2021-2030).

Combined with other management and regulatory tools, Marine Protected Areas are an effective way of strengthening the protection and sustainable management of the Mediterranean Sea and the species that inhabit it. Harmonious development with the human populations along its shores is possible. How do Marine Protected Areas work? What exactly are we talking about? What pressures are currently being exerted on the Mediterranean environment? You’ll find out all about it in this exhibition! 

Scorpion fish, Scorpaena scrofa, 70m. Cap Corse. France © Laurent Ballesta. Mission Gombessa 6.

Panel 1 - Time for action

The Mediterranean Marine Protected Areas


Discover the Mediterranean Sea and its Marine Protected Areas with Pam, a devoted diver and biologist. Scan the QR codes on every display to find out more!

Panel 4 - Mare Nostrum

At the center of our world is the Mediterranean, which connects three continents: Europe, Africa, and Asia. Its natural and cultural diversity defines it.

One of the typical landscapes of the 46,000 km of Mediterranean coastline © Parc National de Port Cros, France.
Traditional fishing. Kerkennah, Tunisia. ©SPA/RAC-Audima

Panel 5 - We are Mediterraneans

522 million people live around the Mediterranean. Every year, 360 million tourists visit its coastline.

Panel 6 - Biodiversity

Despite its relatively small size – making up 0.8% of the world’s seas – the Mediterranean harbors 7-8% of all marine life and boasts 28% of all endemic species.

An example of the rich biodiversity of the Mediterranean Sea. Mollusc, Simnia purpurea, camouflaged on a white gorgonian. 120m. Cap Corse. France ©Laurent Ballesta. Mission Gombessa 6
The Mediterranean Sea is subject to global warming and human pressure © Laurent Ballesta. Mission Gombessa 6.

Panel 7 - Under pressure

The Mediterranean is under pressure: it’s one of the world’s most polluted seas. Its health is being impacted by human activity and global warming.

Panel 8 - Things are heating up!

The Mediterranean is warming up 20% faster than the global average. This is a climate challenge that requires immediate action.

Mediterranean coralligenous slope before and after thermal anomalies © Septentrion environnement.
Illegal anchoring of a boat on a Cymodocea nodosa meadow in the Kas-Kekova marine protected area. Turkïye © Mathieu Foulquié. Biosphoto

Panel 9 - Ecosystems in danger

Mediterranean ecosystems are suffering due to seabed degradation and pollution, excessive urbanization, and increasing temperatures that threaten their equilibrium.

Panel 10 - Endangered species

In 2020, Plan Bleu’s State of the Environment and Development in the Mediterranean counted 78 endangered marine species and 168 endangered coastal species. It’s an emergency!

Grotte de Dofi, l'Estartit, Medes Islands. Spain. ©Xavier Safont Moix. Ramoge contest

Panel 11 - Protect

The Mediterranean needs our protection now more than ever! This miniature sea is a global priority area for conservation.

Panel 12 - What about you ?

Now let’s test some of your knowledge… Answer the questions by ticking the correct box!

Normally I’ve already given you quite a few clues in my comments! But the most important thing is not to remember the figures! This information is there to help you think about the Mediterranean environment and its overall situation.

So ? Ready to play? Above all, don’t hesitate to ask the people around you questions and play games with them!

Remember, we’re always stronger together!

Good luck!

Question 1: How many people live in the various countries around the Mediterranean?


Question 2: How many tourists visit the Mediterranean each year?


Question 3 : How many countries surround the Mediterranean? (They are known as the riparian countries)


Question 4: Maritime traffic in the Mediterranean represents :


Question 5: How many tonnes of plastic waste are dumped in the Mediterranean every year?


Question 6: How many species of marine animals and plants live in the Mediterranean Sea?


Question 7: In surface area, the Mediterranean Sea represents :


Question 8: What is the most endangered species in the Mediterranean today?


Question 9: How wide is the Strait of Gibraltar between Spain and Morocco?


Question 10: What is the average depth of the Mediterranean?


Hatching sea turtle. Lara-Toxeftra. A Specially Protected Marine Area of Mediterranean Importance (SPAMI) on the Cypriot coast ©DFMR - Alexandros Papandreou

Panel 13 - Marine Protected Areas

Marine Protected Areas are marine or coastal zones that have been placed under protection due to their ecological significance.

Panel 14 - A good solution

Marine Protected Areas are indispensable for protecting and sustainably managing marine resources and ecosystems. They’re a great solution for the future.

A high level of protection, combined with effective regulation and enforcement, produces the greatest socio-ecological benefits © according to Kirsten Grorud et al, The MPA guide, Science, Sept 2021.
Infographic based on the inventory of Mediterranean marine protected areas in 2020 by MedPAN and UNEP/MAP-SPA/RAC, November 2021.

Panel 15 - State of affairs

In 2020, 8.33% of the Mediterranean was protected by 1,087 Marine Protected Areas that cover a combined 209,303 km2. We should encourage this growth as much as possible!

Panel 16 - The effects of reserves

The better an area is protected, the more its habitats get restored and the faster its populations grow – benefiting both neighboring areas and its users.

Port-Cros National Park. France. Wildlife density: the reserve effect, a positive result of sound and effective management © Jean-Michel Mille. Biosphoto.
19 March 2024. Speech by H.S.H. Prince Albert II of Monaco on the occasion of the Monaco Blue initiative. The development of Marine Protected Areas is regularly discussed at major international meetings devoted to the Ocean and the Mediterranean © Jean-Charles Vinaj. FPA2

Panel 17 - On every front

To be truly effective on every level – both locally and internationally – we must create strong relationships between everyone involved in conservation and sustainable management.

Panel 18 - Acting in the Mediterranean

SPA/RAC, MedPAN, and The MedFund: these three organizations play key roles in developing Marine Protected Areas in the Mediterranean.

Marine and coastal area of Ain Al-Ghazala, Libya © Mathieu Foulquié. SPA/RAC.
From the younger generation to the Sovereign Prince, Monaco is committed to the Ocean. Student work on the Monaco Marine Education Area in 2019 © Cedou. FPA2. AMPN.

Panel 19 - Monaco is committed to the cause

H.S.H. Prince Albert II of Monaco calls for strengthening and extending the Mediterranean’s Marine Protected Areas by linking them to other management tools.

Panel 20 - Preservation

Protecting endangered species in the Mediterranean is paramount Monk seals, which were on the brink of extinction in 2000, now have a population of about 900 individuals.

Young monk seal, Monachus monachus ©Greg Lecoeur - Monk Seal Alliance
Regular monitoring is the key to successful management. Surveillance boat, Alonissos Marine Protected Area. Greece © Greg Lecoeur. Monk Seal Alliance.

Panel 21 - Management

Sustainably managing marine resources in the Protected Areas means clear rules and an approach that balances protection and usage.

Panel 22 - Raising awareness

Raising awareness through activities like beach clean-ups and education are critical. They encourage us as Mediterranean citizens to protect Our Sea’s biodiversity.

Raising awareness of the need to protect sea turtle nests in the Kuriat Marine and Coastal Protected Area. Tunisia © Hedi Chouchen
A diving biologist performs a biopsy on a large mother-of-pearl, Pinna nobilis, using special forceps. Port-Cros National Park. © Mathieu Foulquié. Biosphoto

Panel 23 - Science

On-the-ground scientific studies evaluate the healthiness of our ecosystems and biodiversity. These studies are very valuable analytical tools for policymakers.

Panel 24 - Cultures

The history of the Mediterranean created our diverse identity. Are we prepared to build a sustainable future for Our Sea?

Objects from the past remind us of our history and our cultural heritage. Polychrome mosaic. Baies underwater archaeological park. Thyrrenian Sea, Campania. Italy © Franco Banfi. Biosphoto.

Panel 25 - What about you?

How do you help preserve the Mediterranean? Pick the actions that match you the best.

Action #1: Say No to plastic!

Starting tomorrow, I’m making a change! Recycling isn’t cutting it, and the plastic waste is too much! So, I’m cutting down on my plastic use at every chance I get. For starters, I’m ditching plastic bottles. I’ll switch to a stainless steel water bottle instead—it’s healthier and more cost-effective! And for my picnics, I’m opting for reusable cutlery and plates over disposable plastic ones. This move will help prevent marine animals like turtles and birds from dying due to intestinal blockage from ingesting them… and it’ll stop plastics that break down into micro-particles from entering the marine food chain!

I’m committed to action #1:


Action #2: Stop overexploiting biodiversity!

From today, I’m no longer consuming overexploited and threatened fish species. When buying fish, I inquire about its origin, whether the fishing method is sustainable, and the stock status of that species. I prefer local catches from artisanal coastal fisheries over industrial fishing. Is this species overexploited at the time I wish to consume it? This is the crucial question to ask to act as a responsible consumer, aware of one’s strength and the influence one can wield! A tip: download the Mr Goodfish app. It will help you understand what’s good for the sea and good for you!

I commit to action #2 :


Action #3: Stop overconsuming energy!

I’ve come to understand that it’s somewhat late to halt the process of climate change and the rising temperatures, accelerated by our excessive consumption. However, not everything is lost! Reasonable energy consumption can help us slow down and stabilize this process, limiting its effects on the Mediterranean environment, fauna, and flora. So, I’m going to make an effort: not letting the water run unnecessarily, turning off the lights, buying less but choosing more durable and local products, getting my appliances repaired, using public transport when possible, or cycling…

I’m committed to action #3:


Action #4: Yes to education for all!

Thinking about how many children and youths lack access to education worldwide, and how they’re not enrolled in schools in numerous countries, deeply saddens me, especially knowing that poverty is the main cause! This needs to change! I’m willing to volunteer my time and commit to sharing my knowledge on environmental management and understanding of the Mediterranean environment. Sustainable protection is a cross-generational matter. We must ensure that the younger generations adopt the right actions and do not repeat the same mistakes we made…

I’m committed to action #4:


Action #5: Yes to eco-citizenship!

I’ve made up my mind! I want to act on my level to accelerate change. No more eco-anxiety or feeling that nothing is shifting! It’s time to mobilize to help protect the Mediterranean, to take our fate into our own hands! To start, I plan to create my own association or join an existing one and take the initiative to organize beach cleanups, to set an example! I’m eager to participate in the life of my community and engage in initiatives and decisions. Following that, I’ll join an international NGO to influence decision-makers and encourage them to move in the right direction, towards sustainable management!

I’m committed to action #5:


Action #6: Yes to responsible tourism!

From now on, I’ve decided to minimize the impact of my travels and to inform myself in advance about the places I visit and their environmental quality. Are they protected, sensitive, and is it reasonable to visit them? I prefer to visit sites where the managers make efforts towards sustainable development and respect for natural environments, with a real commitment! It’s up to me to make the effort to seek out information because, let’s face it, it’s not always available and clear.

I’m committed to action #6:


Panel 26 - 30 x 30 !

Let’s protect and efficiently manage 30% of aquatic and terrestrial species by 2030! The 30×30 objective! There’s still a lot to do in the Mediterranean… Let’s act now!

Working together to reach the 30x30 target! © Visual inspired by the Sails of Change campaign.
A great catch. Yellowtail, Seriola dumerilii. Opatija, Istria. Croatia © Image Broker

Panel 27 - Everything will benefit!

It’s clear as day: Marine Protected Areas mean benefits, well-being, a blue economy, and healthy animal, plant, and human populations!

Panel 28 - Together

Remember this: Let’s get 30% of marine and terrestrial species protected and managed by 2030! We’ll succeed if we work together. With your help, we can do anything!

A winning team for the protection and sustainable management of the Mediterranean© CAR/ASP - Biosphoto - AMPN - Eric Charbonnel/PCMB - Stéphane Jamme/Aquanaute-Magali Mabari - Zafer Kizilkaya - Audimage.

Exhibition partners

Governance of Monaco Explorations