Mediterranean Missions: Barcelona announcement

The announcement in Barcelona

As part of the 2nd meeting of the Decade of the Ocean held from April 10 to 12, 2024, Explorations de Monaco chose Barcelona to announce their next expedition, the
Mediterranean Missions
. The Mediterranean Missions are part of the “Monaco Explorations” project, approved by the United Nations Decade of Ocean Sciences for Sustainable Development 2021-2030. They will focus on Marine Protected Areas. From April 7 to 14, 2024 in Barcelona, a series of events were organized by the Société des Explorations de Monaco around this theme. The emblematic presence of the sailboat Tuiga at Barcelona’s Reial Club Nautica, to the inauguration of an exhibition by HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco, round tables on Mediterranean Marine Protected Areas and educational and awareness-raising activities in Barcelona schools; the announcement made in Barcelona will go down as a landmark in the Mediterranean Missions.

The satellite event on April 9, 2024

The satellite event on April 9, 2024 in Barcelona provided an opportunity to delve into the heart of the issue of Mediterranean Marine Protected Areas, the challenges linked to their sustainable development and the strengthening of their effective management. The event is organized by Explorations de Monaco in collaboration with major players such as MedPAN, The MedFund, SPA/RAC, MonkSeal Alliance and the Yacht-Club de Monaco. The day’s events included two round-table discussions on Mediterranean Marine Protected Areas and the inauguration of the exhibition Time for action – Marine Protected Areas of the Mediterranean by HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco. Aboard Tuiga, the Monegasque Sovereign also exchanged views with the younger generation, represented by a delegation of students from the Lycée Français de Barcelone, accompanied by their teachers.

Welcome from Xavier Prache, Director of Explorations de Monaco, to participants in the mini symposium on Marine Protected Areas. World Trade Center Barcelona, April 9, 2024. Networking event©JC Vinaj. Explorations of Monaco

Inauguration of the exhibition Time for Action: Mediterranean Marine Protected Areas, by HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco. April 9, 2024. Port Vell. Barcelona©JV Vinaj. Explorations of Monaco

April 9, 2024. Satellite event of Monaco Explorations. Exchange between H.S.H. Prince Albert II of Monaco and student delegates from the Lycée Français de Barcelone's maritime classes aboard Tuiga©JCVinaj. Explorations of Monaco

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The satellite event on April 9, 2024 in Barcelona: a busy day for Monaco Explorations and its partners.

Le Tuiga en navigation au large de Barcelone. 12-04-2024©JC Vinaj_Explorations de Monaco
The Tuiga sailing off Barcelona. 12-04-2024©JC Vinaj_Explorations de Monaco

The Tuiga, the Principality's ambassador ship

Flagship of the Principality of Monaco since 1995,
was born at the beginning of the 20th century. She was built in 1909 in Scotland at the Fairlie shipyard by naval architect William Fife III, one of the cradles of traditional yachting. This elegant cutter remains one of the finest jewels to be admired at classic yacht gatherings. Its features are similar to those of the future J classes of the 1930s.

After two days and one night of sailing, this 15M JI joined one of its three sister ships still sailing around the world, the

Tuiga ‘s presence at the2nd Conference of the Decade of the Ocean in Barcelona foreshadows future sailings by Mediterranean Missions vessels.

Planning of operations

Posts written during the Mediterranean Missions

April 9, 2024. On the eve of the announcement of the Mediterranean Missions in Barcelona, as part of the second meeting of the Decade of the Ocean, Xavier Prache sets the scene, looks ahead to the next missions and measures the progress already made since his arrival on September 1, 2023 at the head of Explorations de Monaco.

Tell me about Barcelona

François, Moniteur de plongée au club Unisub d'Estartit. Espagne ©S.Peroumal. Explorations de Monaco

In the Medes Islands reserve, there is a limit on the number of divers per site and per boat. A rotation system allows each club to bring its divers to each spot in turn. The number of divers is limited to 45 per site. Underwater, you can’t touch anything. Boats are not allowed to drop anchor and only use the mooring buoys provided.

François, diving instructor at the UniSub club in Estartit. April 13, 2024
Boris Weitzman. 13 avril 2024. Estartit©S. Peroumal. MonacoExplorations

In the Medes Islands, fishing was banned 40 years ago. Some fish species, such as groupers and bream, have been able to return to their original densities and rebuild their populations. These fish live longer and we have more breeders. Increasing populations within the reserve allow these species to colonize new areas all around. The fishermen, of course, are very happy. This allows them to catch nice-sized fish where fishing is allowed.

Boris Weitzman, marine biologist. Boris is in charge of monitoring species and ecosystems in the Medes Islands reserve. April 13, 2024.
S.A.S. Albert II de Monaco au World Trade Center de Barcelone. 9 avril 2024 © JC Vinaj. Explorations de Monaco

Thanks to Marine Protected Areas, we encourage, extend and improve the more sustainable use of marine resources, because they meet both the needs of nature and those of the communities that live alongside them… This Decade represents a unique opportunity to better manage the world and its major challenges, which demand truth, sincerity, collegiality and responsibility.

H.S.H. Prince Albert II of Monaco. April 9, 2024
Josep Capella Hereu. Expert en gestion publique du tourisme impliqué dans la création et la gestion du Parc Naturel de Montgri et de la réserves îles Medes. Estartit. Interview du 13 avril 2024 ©S. Peroumal. Explorations de Monaco

Protecting the Medes Islands has a major economic impact on the local economy, in terms of diving, hotel stays and diversification of nautical activities. The reserve generates economic spin-offs of over 15 million euros each year and 300 jobs, representing over 3% of Estartit’s population. It’s a very important asset and a driving force for economic development and employment. We take care to strike the right balance between protection and conservation.

Josep Capellà Hereu. Expert in public tourism management. April 13, 2024
Audrey Azoulay. Directrice générale de l'Unesco©Unesco

We have some crucial goals ahead of us. A lot has already been done for the Ocean, but there’s still a lot to do, and we can do it. We must continue to invest in science, we must continue to educate and engage, and we must continue this international cooperation. We know it’s very difficult in these times of crisis, but there’s one thing that can unite us, and that’s the Ocean.

Audrey Azoulay. Director General of Unesco. April 10, 2024
Tony Murray. Fondateur du club de plongée Unisub à Estartit. Espagne. Interview EDM du 13 avril 2024 ©S.Peroumal. Explorations de Monaco

Here, it took 20 years to turn the Estartit region into a nature park. When there are rules, communication, infrastructure and a minimum of control and security, things start to work in a balanced way, because everyone realizes that they can benefit.

Tony Murray. Founder of the first diving club, UniSub, in Estartit. April 13, 2024.
Asma Kheriji. SAP:RAC. 9 avril 2024. Barcelone © JC VInaj. Explorations de Monaco

By working together, we’re not just protecting the Mediterranean. When biodiversity is threatened, we are threatened because we are directly connected to Nature. We’re part of it, and we can’t live without Nature. To protect the human species, we must protect Nature.

Asma Kheriji. SPA/RAC Program Manager for Mediterranean Specially Protected Areas. April 9, 2024.
Carole Martinez. MedPAN. 9 avril 2024. Barcelone©JC Vinaj. Explorations de Monaco

There is a major need for funding for Mediterranean Marine Protected Areas. When it comes to regulation, control and monitoring, there’s a lot to be done. Some MPAs do not yet have a boat to patrol and ensure proper surveillance. That’s why we need to pay close attention to the qualitative dimension of the 30X30 lens.

Carole Martinez. MedPAN. Strategic development expert.
Puri Canals. Présidente de MedPAN. Workshop Aires Marines Protégées de Méditerranée. 9 avril 2024. Barcelone©JC Vinaj. Explorations de Monaco

On the occasion of this workshop, I am very pleased and proud to announce the signing of the agreement between MedPAN and MedCities. We have a lot to do together for the Mediterranean.

Puri Canals. President of MedPAN. April 9, 2024.
Romain Renoux. Directeur exécutif de The MedFund. 9 avril 2024. Barcelone©JC Vinaj. Explorations de Monaco

We have developed The MedFund to support the day-to-day operational costs of Marine Protected Areas, i.e. all activities such as surveillance, law enforcement, ecological and scientific monitoring, but also the active governance that brings together stakeholders around the Mediterranean Sea, as well as each site manager, to contribute to the implementation of their management plan. We currently support 20 Marine Protected Areas around the Mediterranean, representing a surface area of 9,000 km2 and a budget of over 6 million euros.

Romain Renoux. Executive Director of MedPAN. April 9, 2024

The 2nd Ocean Decade Conference

Formulate a shared vision for the years ahead. After the first three years of intense activity, which saw the development of numerous projects accredited by the decade, the General Conference on April 10, 11 and 12, 2024 was organized into four thematic sessions, based around the 10 Ocean challenges to be met by the participants. A key moment to develop a common vision and envisage innovative scientific solution initiatives on the scale of the international ocean community.

In all, the conference attracted over 1,500 participants, 40 high-level speakers, 300 posters, 150 oral presentations and 130 satellite events. These figures speak volumes about the scale of the event.

Official flags at the entrance to the Barcelona International Convention Center, CCIB. Ocean Decade Conference. April 10 to 12, 2024. Barcelona©Unesco

Speech by H.S.H. Albert II of Monaco at the 2nd Ocean Decade Conference. Barcelona. April 10, 2024 © JC Vinaj. Explorations of Monaco

2nd meeting of the Decade of the Ocean. April 10, 2024. Young Mauritian Sruti Jeetun on the left and Véronique Banane from the Seychelles in front of the poster dedicated to the school aboard the S.A. Agulhas II during the Monaco Explorations Indian Ocean mission©JC Vinaj. Explorations of Monaco

Ocean Decade Conference. April 10-12, 2024©Unesco

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The General Conference of the Decade of the Ocean highlighted the contribution and commitment of the Principality and its Sovereign to the development of ocean sciences.

The Decade's priority commitments for the years ahead

The conference took place at a unique moment in the global landscape of ocean governance, with the recent emergence of the agreement under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea relating to the conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity beyond areas of national jurisdiction. (BBNJ agreement), the
Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework
the formalization of ocean-climate dialogue in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the ongoing negotiation of the
plastics treaty
It recognized that the Decade of the Oceans could make an essential contribution to science and knowledge to support the implementation of these instruments.

Exhibition: Time for Action: Mediterranean Marine Protected Areas. Educational workshop. Port Vell. Barcelona. April 09, 2024. Angela Oviedo, a member of the Oceanographic Institute's Animations and Education department, interacts with students from the Lycée Français de Barcelone © D.Théron. Explorations of Monaco

Plankton workshop at Barcelona's Reial Club, led by Anna Oddone. April 11, 2024. Students from La Pau school prepare to observe and identify plankton collected in the harbor © D.Théron. Explorations of Monaco

The Curiosity Plankton: a simple, practical field tool for easy observation. Plankton workshop. April 11, 2024. Reial Cul Nautico de Barcelone©JC Vinaj. Explorations of Monaco

Exhibition: Time for Action: Mediterranean Marine Protected Areas. Educational workshop. Port Vell. Barcelona. April 09, 2024. What are the pressures facing the Mediterranean environment today, and why do we urgently need to protect it better? D.Théron. Explorations of Monaco

Knowing and understanding. Observation and recognition, the first steps in the scientific process. Plankton workshop. Reial Club Nautico de Barcelone. April 11, 2024© JC Vinaj. Explorations of Monaco

Teachers from the Lycée Français de Barcelone and students from the University of Science sailing on the Tuiga ©JV VInaj. Explorations of Monaco

Plankton workshop. Harvesting in the port in front of the Reial Club Nautico. Barcelona. April 11, 2024 ©JCVinaj. Explorations of Monaco

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Throughout the Barcelona week, awareness-raising and educational activities followed one another in rapid succession. Around 300 young pupils, students and teachers have benefited.

Mediation: communicating and raising awareness

Alongside diplomacy and science, mediation is the third pillar of Explorations de Monaco’s activities. The announcement of the Mediterranean Missions in Barcelona was also an opportunity to raise awareness and pass on knowledge about the major issues involved in preserving and sustainably managing the ocean, and the Mediterranean in particular. In Barcelona, this mediation component took the form of educational activities and awareness-raising workshops, organized for classes at the Lycée Français de Barcelone, the Pau school, the Tanit school in Santa Coloma de Gramenet and the Faculté Nautique de Barcelone.

Time for Action: the exhibition

Pam is a young diver and biologist with a passion for the marine environment. This fictitious character invites visitors to this traveling exhibition to discover the Mediterranean Marine Protected Areas and learn more about the issues involved in their development. Punctuated by Pam’s enthusiastic audio commentary, the tour and educational workshops led by Explorations de Monaco staff provide answers and information to the following questions: What can be done to safeguard this shared heritage? How do Marine Protected Areas work? Are they effective solutions? Find Pam on the exhibition page.

The Time for Action: Mediterranean Marine Protected Areas exhibition in Barcelona's Port Vell, on the day of its inauguration. April 9, 2024. Dockside, the Tuiga, the Principality's ambassador ship ©JCVinaj. Explorations of Monaco

PAM. Exhibition mascot: Time for Action: Mediterranean Marine Protected Areas. Pam, a passionate young biologist, takes visitors on a voyage of discovery of the Mediterranean Marine Protected Areas, guiding them along the way with comprehensive audio commentaries © Explorations de Monaco

Twice during the tour, visitors are invited to test their knowledge © Explorations de Monaco

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The exhibition Le Temps de l'Action: les Aires Marines Protégées de Méditerranée (Time for Action: Mediterranean Marine Protected Areas ) will be touring the various Mediterranean countries where the Explorations de Monaco missions will take place.

Scuba diving in the Medes Islands reserve is permitted but limited. April 13, 2024. A participatory science program is being developed with divers. It allows a photographic census of the species ©D.Theron. Explorations of Monaco

Traditional fishing boat. Port of Estartit. April 13, 2024. Fishermen are key players in the management of the Medes Islands reserve. They work closely with managers and biologists © D.Théron. Explorations of Monaco

Medes Islands. April 13, 2024 © D.Théron. Explorations of Monaco

Developed by Boris Weitzmann, the biologist in charge of monitoring the reserve, in collaboration with fishermen, the Sepia project recovers cuttlefish and octopus eggs caught in nets. These eggs are placed in stalls in the port. Shortly before they hatch, they are returned to the sea, enabling repopulation © D.Theron. Explorations of Monaco

Mooring buoy. Medes Islands Reserve. April 13, 2024. Installed at the reserve's various diving and boating sites, these buoys enable boats to moor without dropping anchor and thus without damaging the seabed © D.Théron. Explorations of Monaco

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Encounters in the Medes Islands

To coincide with the Decade of the Ocean Conference, the Explorations de Monaco team visited Estartit, in the heart of the Mediterranean. Montgri, Medes Islands and Baix Ter Natural Parkto meet the day-to-day players in the Medes Islands Marine Reserve, a Marine Protected Area that sets the benchmark for efficiency and sustainable management. The improved and strengthened management of this marine zone since its creation has been in everyone’s interest, benefiting not only the flora and fauna and the balance of the ecosystems, but also all the park’s social and economic players: diving clubs, tourism agencies, hotels, fishermen, scientists, educators…

Next mission: Greece

After Barcelona, Monaco Explorations are preparing the first leg of the Mediterranean Missions in Greece, where several operations and meetings with Marine Protected Area site managers will be implemented in October 2024.

This next mission is part of a series of concrete actions undertaken by the Principality of Monaco to promote marine conservation and raise public awareness of environmental issues. With the Mediterranean Missions, Monaco continues its commitment to preserving marine biodiversity.

Aire Marine Protégée d'Alonissos. Village de Patitiri©Greg Lecoeur. Monk Seal Alliance
Alonissos Marine Protected Area. Patitiri village. Greece © Greg Lecoeur. Monk Seal Alliance

Before embarking on this mission to Greece, the Principality of Monaco and its partners marked their commitment to preserving the Ocean by taking part in the conference “Our Ocean Greece 2024. This conference, held in Athens from April 15 to 17, 2024, brought together the most eminent international players involved in protecting the marine environment. A unique opportunity to share knowledge, best practices and strengthen partnerships to tackle the crucial challenges threatening the Mediterranean Sea.

Bringing together governments and non-state actors to make concrete commitments to protect the health and safety of the oceans, the 9th Our Ocean conference recorded 471 commitments worth $11.35 billion across the conference’s six action areas. Since 2014, the Our Ocean conference has mobilized over 2,600 commitments worth around $140 billion.

Among its own 20 commitments, Greece has officially announced the end of bottom trawling in Greek Marine Protected Areas.

Our Ocean Greece. 15-17 avril 2024©Our Ocean
Our Ocean Greece. 15-17 avril 2024©Our Ocean


New photographic exhibition along Monaco’s St-Martin Gardens
Launch of a thematic school on the reef heritage vulnerability, in the Seychelles, in June 2024.

Mediterranean missions partners

Governance of Monaco Explorations