In the past decade a number of countries bordering the Mediterranean Basin (Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt, Cyprus, Syria, Libya) did declare an Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). Recent developments, in France and in Italy, suggest that other countries will follow suite in the near term.
The recent establishment by Italy of an Ecological Protection Zone in its Tyrrhenian, Ligurian and Sardinian waters is a sign in this direction. This EPZ allows Italy to extend Italian (and EC) regulations to much larger expanses of water under its sovereignty (see map below) and enforce there measures so far applicable only in Italian territorial waters. These regulations - including those of relevant International Conventions to which Italy is a party - concern in particular conservation measures targeting pollution from ships, offshore rigs, ballast waters, garbage disposal, and exploration and exploitation of the sea bottom, as well as the protection of marine biodiversity and ecosystems with a specific reference to marine mammals. These regulations now apply to all vessels, including those flying a non-Italian flag.
This new development bears significant consequences for marine conservation in our region. To begin with, the junction of the Italian EPZ with the adjacent French EPZ (declared in 2004 and soon to be formally converted into a full-fledged Economic Exclusive Zone) means that most marine waters of the Pelagos Sanctuary now lie within the jurisdiction of either France or Italy. This will greatly facilitate the implementation of management measures in the Sanctuary. Italy's declaration of an EPZ is the latest in a process whereby Mediterranean coastal states are progressively extending their jurisdiction beyond their strict territorial waters, as provided for by UNCLOS - the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.
NB: To learn more about EEZ and marine protected areas you may download CIESM Monograph 41 'Marine Peace Parks in the Mediterranean – a CIESM proposal'