Short history of the Sanctuary of the Cetaceans of the Mediterranean Sea

1990-91 - The birth of the idea

The Tethys Institute proposes the Pelagos Plan, for the creation of a Reservoir of the Biosphere in the "Corso-Liguro-Provenzal" basin, that presents the highest concentration of cetaceans in all the Italian seas and probably it represents the richest area of the entire Mediterranean. In the area it is situated one of the most important site for the common finner in the Mediterranean Sea.

1993 - First official step

The day 22 March the representatives of the Ministries of the Atmosphere of France and Italy and the Minister of the Principality of Monaco sign in Brussels a Declaration for the institution of an International Sanctuary of the Cetaceans of the Mediterranean Sea.

1999 - The Sanctuary becomes truth

25 November the Ministers have met themselves to Rome in order to sign the definitive agreement that sanctions the institution of the Sanctuary. The area of approximately 100,000 Km2 comprises waters between Tolone (French coast), Capo Falcone (western Sardinia), Capo Ferro (oriental Sardinia) and Fosso Chiarone (Tuscany).

The scientific evidence

The section of sea interested from the Sanctuary is a portion of the extremely rich Mediterranean of pelagica life, and surely the most important of the entire basin because of the populations of cetaceans that it accommodates.

From the summer of 1988 the Tethys Institute begins a series of searches on the cetaceans in the Italian seas, and particolarly in the Corso-Liguro-Provenzale basin, from which it appears clearly, in terms of sight frequency, the superiority of this last region on seas of Italy. In 1992 it comes carried out a census on the surface of the future Sanctuary from part of the Tethys Institute, from Greenpeace and the University of Barcelona, that the numerical esteem of stenelle (the 32.800 exemplary) and of the common finners concurs (830 exemplary) present in the zone in the summery period.

From the "Pelagos Plan" to the Sanctuary

The proposal of the institution of a regimen of protection for the cetaceans in the Corso-Liguro-Provenzale basin is born with the name of Pelagos Plan and comes introduced to 23 Milan March 1990 from the Tethys Institute to the Association for the European Foundation Rotary for the Atmosphere, than it has financed the preliminary study.

The Pelagos Plan proposes the institution of a Reservoir of the Biosfera in the Corso-Liguro-Provenzale basin, that it would have had to be managed from a created international authority from France, Italy and Monaco, and with center in the Principality.

The Pelagos Plan comes officially introduced to the Oceanographic Museum of Monaco 2 March 1991, to the presence of prince Ranieri.

In 1992 they are taken place, is in Italy that in France, the ideal political conditions because an initiative like the Pelagos Plan could arouse interest near the respective Administrations. Commission of job comes constituted one, composed from representatives of the three States and the local communities, and with the participation of experts of the scientific, legal world and enviromentalist. The commission has produced the text of relative the Combined Declaration to the Institution of a Mediterranean Sanctuary for Mammalian Navy . This declaration previews the institution of the Sanctuary, the designation of a competent authority to coordinarne the management, and the adoption of appropriate measures (between which the prohibition of disturbing deliberate capture and intentional for search reasons, the use of pelagiche networks deriving, the fight against the pollution, the regulation and eventually the off-shore prohibition of competitions, the regulation of the activities of whale-watching , and finally the encouragement of programs of search and campaigns of sensibilizzazione of the great public) in order to guarantee to mammalian navy of the E region to their habitats one be of favorable conservation. It is arrived therefore to the company of the Declaration, underwrite to Brussels 22 March 1993 in concomitanza with an Ambient Council of the European Community. Present the Minister of the French Atmosphere Ségolène Royal, the Minister of the Italian Atmosphere Valdo Thorns and the Minister di Stato of the Principato di Monaco.

The 29 september 1998 the Sanctuary of the From Liguria Mar is more close to its realization, thanks to the taken one of position of the Italian Government who is officially engaged to promote the cause of the Sanctuary with the governments French and monegasco. In October 1999 the Ministers of the three states riuniranno to Rome for the definitive company that sanctions the official birth of the Sanctuary, whose original idea was proposed from the Tethys Institute 10 years ago. " E' with great satisfaction and pride that we give to the welcome to the baby Sanctuary - says Margherita Zanardelli, President of the Tethys Institute - this is a step a lot important for the conservation of the Mediterranean marine atmosphere. We are enthusiastic in seeing our ideas of years ago to become one truth; thanks to the support that governmental and not-governmental organizations have given to our proposal a new chapter are opening for the cetacei of the Mediterranean. For before the time in Europe three Mediterranean nations have joined their forces in order to create a protected area that in great part is found in international waters; what we hope is that this represents a model to imitate in other zones of the river basin of the Nostrum Sea .

The scientific search in the Sanctuary

From 1988 the Tethys Institute leads scientific searches in the area of the Sanctuary; such searches can therefore be synthetized:

· Ecology and marking with radiotransmitter of common finner, Balaenoptera physalus , in Ligurian Sea (in collaboration with Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution). 1988.
· Ecology of the cetaceans present in the basin Corso-Liguro-Provenzale (Ligurian Sea, Sea of Corsica): distribution, relative abundance and choice of the habitat. From 1990 today.
· Ecology of the common finner in the Mediterranean; photo-identification, genetic and toxicological analysis. 1990- today.
· Study of the induced behavioural modifications by means of tracking passive from boats in the common finner. From 1993 today.
· Study of the abilities to immersion and the alimentary behavior of the common finner mediated the Velocity-Time-Depth-Recorder application. From 1998 today.
· Distribution and abundance of common finner and capodoglio,
Physeter catodon , in the central Mediterranean (in collaboration with the Italian Navy). 1993-94.
· Distribution, relative abundance and behavioural models of the streaked stenella,
Stenella coeruleolba , in western Ligurian Sea, found by means of survey acoustic (in collaboration with the International Fund for Animal Welfare, IFAW). 1994-1996.
· Ecology and behavior of the grampo, Grampus griseus , and of the odontoceti, along the continental escarpment in the Corso-Liguro-Provenzale basin. From 1990 today.