Enhance the sea as a cultural, scientific, recreational and economic resource. With this goal, the National Sea Day established by Legislative Decree 229/2017 is celebrated on 11 April. “The National Day of the Sea is an important opportunity to raise awareness especially among young people on the importance of respect and knowledge of the sea, a resource of great value for the world and for Italy in particular”, explains Francesca Santoro to Adnkronos. program specialist of the Unesco Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (Ioc-Unesco) which coordinates the activities of the Decade of Marine Sciences for Sustainable Development (2021-2030), proclaimed by the United Nations to enhance the role of marine sciences in the promotion of sustainable development and in the implementation of the United Nations 2030 Agenda and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals.
The protection of the sea in Italy
There are 27 marine protected areas in Italy (Amp), in addition to 2 submerged parks, which protect a total of approximately 228,000 hectares of sea and 700,000 km of coastline. Looking in detail, 19.12% of Italian territorial waters (0-12 nautical miles) are covered by marine areas in various ways protected: areas in which human activities – for example fishing and tourism – should be partially or totally limited, fish are able to reproduce and the biodiversity of the largest ecosystem on the planet is preserved. However, only in 1.67% of cases are these areas that effectively implement their management plans, while the rest are small paper parks, or marine areas that are not effectively managed. Furthermore, only 0.1% is covered by fully protected areas.
Italy, together with the United Kingdom, Spain, Germany and France, is among the major contributors to the EU’s Blue Economy both for employment (with a combined contribution of 58%) and for the gross value added Val (69% ). In 2017, in terms of the EU’s blue economy valley, the Mediterranean sea basin – of which Italy is a part – reached 59.6 billion euros, 29% of the total at European level, coming after the Atlantic Ocean (€ 73.4 billion) and the North Sea (€ 63 billion). However, the employment dimension has been reversed: 40% of Blue Economy employment is in the Mediterranean (1.78 million employees), 29% in the Atlantic Ocean (1.29 million employees) and only 20% in the North Sea (0.87 million employees). As for Italy, in detail, in the last 10 years (from 2009 to 2018) it has seen its share of employment and of Val decrease.
On the other hand, however, Italy has an important role from an environmental point of view: it is estimated that it is responsible for the sequestration of 13.2 million tons of Blue Carbon per year, the highest value among EU member states in the Mediterranean Sea. .
“The sea, the coastal areas and the activities related to them play a fundamental role for the future of the planet: Italy – adds Francesca Santoro – has an enormous heritage that must protect and manage effectively, to avoid the destruction of biodiversity of the marine ecosystem. We will benefit not only in environmental terms but also in economic terms. As emerged from the IOC-Unesco 2021 Report, it is necessary for each country to adopt a 100% sustainable management of its national waters by 2025 with combined actions (from the development of renewable energy based on the ocean to the storage of carbon in the seabed) that could reduce the gap in emissions up to 21% on a reduction of 1.5 ° C and up to 25% on a reduction of 2 degrees centigrade ”.