• Provisioning services. Products obtained from ecosystems, such as food or timber.
• Regulating services. The benefits obtained from the regulation of ecosystems, including services such as purification of water, flood control, or regulation of the climate via carbon sequestration.
• Cultural services. The benefits people obtain from ecosystems through spiritual enrichment, cognitive development, reflection. recreation, and aesthetic experiences.
• Marine pollution deriving from terrestrial sources (e.g. discharges from purification plants, which causes turbidity and impede the passage of light)
• The discharge of bilge waters of the countless ships that ply this marine area
• Sand extraction and dredging in ports
• The presence of invasive species, such as some algae, which in some areas are overwhelming the Posidonia
• Illegal, illicit or non-environmentally friendly fishing practices that ruin the seabed
2. Population densities in coastal areas have continued to increase at unsustainable rates over the last decade. Over 1965- 2015, urban pressures increased in 75% of Mediterranean countries; particularly, built areas doubled or more than doubled within one kilometer from the sea. Consequently, biodiversity and especially natural coastal ecosystems and their services (e.g. carbon capture, flood control) decreased in contradiction with the Barcelona Convention Integrated Coastal Zone Management Protocol. Urbanization also resulted in the loss of agricultural land.
3. Health impacts from atmospheric pollution are most severe in urban and port areas, with pollution measured well beyond WHO recommended standards. The low quality of fuels in some countries, emissions from ships, and high shares of aged vehicles in motor vehicle stocks contribute to explain the annual 228,000 early deaths from air pollution in Mediterranean countries.
4. Health impacts from lack of water supply and wastewater treatment facilities, particularly on the southern and eastern rims of the region, contribute to a range of diseases, undermining population well-being and labor productivity.
5. Waste and its management remains a challenge in many countries. Around 730 tonnes of plastic waste end up daily in the Mediterranean Sea. Plastic waste represents 95 to 100% of marine floating waste and 50% of litter on sea beds. In tonnage, plastic could outweigh fish stocks in the near future. Many coastal uncontrolled landfill sites are found, particularly on eastern and southern shores.
6. Fisheries practices threaten fish resources: 78% of assessed stocks are over-fished, while 18% of the catches are discarded. Fisheries represent the number one threat to fish populations in the Mediterranean Sea. Aquaculture is growing fast with high dependency on fish meal from sea catches, large nitrate and phosphorus effluents, as well as genetic modification of natural fish stocks.
7. Fossil fuels overall dominate energy supply in the Mediterranean region, with heavy environmental and health impacts (e.g. CO2, water acidification, particulate matters). An energy transition is imperative, focusing on energy efficiency and larger shares of renewable sources in the energy mix, in line with international agreements.
8. Excessive use of chemical and pharmaceutical products generate increasing concerns, particularly in northern Mediterranean countries. Only about 700 out of 70,000 chemical substances on the market have been studied for their SoED 2020 | 7 risk impacts, with focus on those used with ‘high tonnage’. Endocrine disruptors penetrate the environment directly (e.g. herbicides, insecticides and fungicides) or indirectly (e.g. metabolic degradation of pharmaceuticals through treated wastewater). They have effects on fish and amphibians, as well as on children and human reproductive health.
United Nations Environment Programme / Mediterranean Action Plan and Plan Bleu (2020). State of the Environment and Development in the Mediterranean