Bouches de Bonifacio international marine park

Countries: France , Italy
Regions concerned: Corse, Sardaigne

Presentation

The strait of Bonifacio is one of the most remarkable natural sites in the western Mediterranean. The marine fauna and flora bring to life an underwater landscape that has become rare in the Mediterranean. The reserve forms part of the Ligurian Sea Cetacean Sanctuary. It is also home to many marine birds, and a wide variety of terrestrial plants.

In order to preserve this natural heritage, underwater diving and pleasure-boating is regulated, as is fishing which, while widely practiced, is limited to cordoned off areas. Despite being a very serious threat, commercial shipping is not banned in this international strait. It is nevertheless subject to permanent monitoring.

The ecological and heritage value of the site is now internationally recognised, as the Tre Padule De Suartone Nature Reserve, the most recent reserve established in Corsica, is now on the List of Wetlands of International Importance, within the framework of the Ramsar Convention.

The Bouches de Bonifacio EGCT

On 7 December 2012, the Bouches de Bonifacio international marine park adopted the form of an EGTC, marking the establishment of the first structure of this type for the implementation of EU environmental policies at cross-border level, with implications for maritime transport and the international law of the sea. The new entity is introduced twenty years after the signing of the French-Italian protocol defining the procedures for implementing this major project.

On this occasion, the presidents of the Corsica environment office1 and the La Maddalena archipelago national park signed the European convention and the founding statutes of the EGTC. The body is responsible for promoting the protection, the management and the joint development of the natural and cultural resources of the Bouches de Bonifacio, in order to implement a joint sustainable development strategy for this cooperation area.

The approach is to consider the Bouches de Bonifacio from now on as a “morpho-functional unit” to facilitate the understanding of certain processes and define more appropriate management in order to face up to large-scale issues that are not bound by national borders.

The core task of the EGTC is to encourage the emergence of joint solutions for management issues that are difficult to resolve at the level of each protected marine area, such as those relating to tourist flows (excessive visitor numbers, impact of pleasure boat anchors, recreational sea fishing, etc.).

In addition, the reinforcement of international cooperation will provide tools with the capacity to deal with issues relating to scientific knowledge, for example with respect to fishery resources.

Lastly, the EGTC works for international recognition of the ecological specificity of the Bouches de Bonifacio, for example in the context of an application for listing of the Bouches de Bonifacio as a UNESCO world heritage site and of follow-up to the reinforcement of maritime security in this international strait.

  1. Manager of the Tre Padule de Suartone nature reserve, the Cerbicale islands nature reserve, the Bouches de Bonifacio nature reserve and the land owned by the Conservatoire du littoral (the French coastal conservancy) along its shores.