High Sea Governance and Protection Measures of the High Seas in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea

SPAMI Proposals for Finike (Anaximander) and Mediterranean (Erastothanes) Seamounts in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea.

SPA/BD Protocol is one of the instruments of the Marine Protected areas and Specially Protected Areas of Mediterranean Importance (SPAMI). This protocol was adopted in 1995. SAP-BIO adopted in 2003 by the Barcelona Convention contracting parties mentioned that setting up protected areas offshore (including high seas) to protect pelagic ecosystems, sensitive species, seamounts and submarine canyons should be a priority. Appropriate SPAMI list(s) can be an important instrument for the designation of the offshore MPS’s in international waters.

The Finike (Anaximander) Seamount, formed by an older group of continental fragments now caught up in the plate convergence between Africa and Eurasia, are an important area for active mud volcanism and gas hydrate formation. They are described as large faulted and tilted blocks that originally were geologically continuous with SW Turkey.
Mud volcanoes, seeps and vents specific seep-associated fauna (e.g. tubeworms, bivalves and chemosynthetic bacteria).
This area, a major spawning ground for pelagic fishes, seems to be located near between the Antalya eddy and the Rhodes Gyre, one of the most distinctive features of the Levantine basin. Many deep sea fish species with statuses awaiting IUCN evaluation were sampled from this area, together with highly commercial deep-sea shrimps. Abralia veranyi, a deep sea cephalopod and a preferable prey of the striped and Risso’s dolphins was sampled from the area. This area is important for marine mammals such as Sperm whales since such environments have rich and diverse pelagic ecosystems.
Mediterranean Seamount (Eratosthenes) is relatively poorly known in terms of marine biodiversity but diverse fauna such as scleractinian corals, deepwater crustaceans, sponges and others. Besides GFCM also has issued recommendations for the Eratosthanes Seamount in the eastern Mediterranean and fisheries activities have been already banned according to the GFCM recommendation number 2006/3 on the establishment of fisheries restricted areas in order to protect the deep sea sensitive ecosystem. Nevertheless, IUU fisheries, ship originated pollution and recently offshore exploration and exploitation are the main threats for such a pristine habitat. Oil and gas exploration activities need to be banned in this unique area. Finike and Mediterranean seamounts are isolated underwater islands in the eastern Mediterranean Sea and need protection as stepping stones from sea to the coastal areas. SPAMI can be a solution for two important seamounts in terms of protection.