Subject: Sanctuary: WWF campaigns for Mediterranea (fwd)

Mike Williamson (
Mon, 2 Feb 1998 15:05:59 -0500 (EST)


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Date: Mon,  2 Feb 98 02:03:00 GMT 
Subject: WWF campaigns for Mediterranea

WWF campaigns for Mediterranean whale sanctuary

    ROME, Jan 30 (Reuters) - The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) on
Friday urged France, Italy and Monaco to finalise an
international agreement for the establishment of a whale
sanctuary in the Mediterranean.
     The three countries signed a declaration of intent in 1993
backing the sanctuary, which would cover the 100,000-square km
(38,500 sq miles) Ligurian Sea in the northwest part of the
Mediterranean, but a final deal has still to be rubber-stamped.
     "We have been trying to get this project off the ground for
eight years but it has been mired in government and
institutional bureaucracy," said Grazia Francesca, president of
the Italian branch of WWF.
     "At the moment just 0.22 percent of the Mediterranean Sea
is protected. The sanctuary would increase that area to four
percent," she said.
     High in nutrients, the Ligurian Sea is inhabited by some
2,000 whales and between 25,000 and 45,000 dolphins during the
summer months.
     Species found in the region include the fin whale, the pilot
whale, the bottlenose dolphin and the striped dolphin.
     "The whales in the Mediterranean may not be under threat
from Japanese hunters as in other parts of the world," said
Luca Sabatini, director of the Italian wing of Europe
Conservation, which is also backing the sanctuary campaign.
     "But there are plenty of other threats in the shape of
pollution, fishing and other offshore activities," he said.
     The main provisions of the treaty are a ban on drift-net
fishing as well as on offshore boating competitions, enforcement
of pollution control measures in the area and supervision of
whale-watching activities.
     Italy banned the use of drift-net fishing in its part of the
proposed sanctuary in 1991, but by 1995 some 600 Italian vessels
were reported to be using the method illegally -- many with nets
far longer than the 2,500 metres (2,700 yards) allowed under
European Union law.
     France has yet to enforce that partof the treaty.
     Sabatini said it was hoped that the area covered by the
treaty would eventually be extended to cover the Balearic
Islands in Spain which mark an important stopover point for
migrating whales.