Since 2013 Yad Hanadiv has been pursuing a strategic initiative to conserve ecosystems in the Mediterranean Sea. In the early years, our focus was on improving governance and planning frameworks, and promoting sustainable fishing practices. Since 2018 our strategy is centred around both establishing a network of Marine Protected Areas that will cover an estimated 20% of Israel’s territorial waters, and generating resources and professional know-how for their effective management. A Marine Protected Area (MPA) is a defined region that is managed and dedicated to the long-term conservation of habitats and biodiversity, thereby empowering ecosystem services and their corresponding economic, cultural and recreational values.
Marine ecosystems in the Mediterranean are deteriorating, which endangers services and benefits that are crucial to Israelis’ well-being. A lack of institutional mechanisms to monitor various activities – most prominently fishing, but also gas drilling, sand mining, new transportation and tourism infrastructures, excess waste and pollution from terrestrial and marine activities – perpetuates and exacerbates this situation. Research indicates that Marine Protected Areas, including Marine Reserves, are often the most effective way to conserve and restore marine ecosystems, habitats and biodiversity.
We have partnered with the Israel Nature and Parks Authority and several non-profits to help them gain legal recognition and public support for a network of MPAs, which were selected based on the best available scientific knowledge. This network of MPAs has been bolstered by a policy paper on marine areas that Israel’s Planning Administration published in 2020.
Our objectives are: 1) Legal designation of an ecologically coherent network of MPAs covering an estimated 20% of Israel’s territorial waters, intelligently positioned to protect important and representative habitats and support connectivity; 2) Effective management and enforcement of this network of MPAs by a competent and well-resourced public entity; 3) Collection and broad dissemination of scientific data, knowledge and expertise to inform effective planning and management of the MPAs; 4) Raising public awareness and harnessing local communities to support the development of MPAs and assist in their management and enforcement.