Secured marine infrastructures along the Israeli Mediterranean coast: Burden or benefit to the marine environment?
The Mediterranean Sea is a unique body of water. It encompasses a large scae of habitat and is considered a biodiversity hotspot. It hosts more than 17,000 marine species and overall it encompass 7% of the world’s marine biodiversity including high percentage of endemic species. Intense human activity in the area, such as fishing, transportation, natural resource exploitation, recreational activity, military and mariculture, caused habitat degradation, species invasion, overexploitation of marine resources and pollution. The significant negative effect of human activity on all habitat types of the Mediterranean and the increasing need for marine resources, highlights the need to protect and conserve the unique ecosystems and species there. Conservation actions in the Mediterranean today are mostly restricted to designated marine protected areas and may serve many causes such as increasing fishing yield, recreational activities and preservation of historical sites and are not necessarily aimed for conservation of marine biodiversity or protection of endemic and rare species.
The current study aims to examine an approach for conservation along the Israeli Mediterranean coast that spreads beyond marine protected areas boundaries. This comprehensive approach will consider marine conservation not only in designated areas but also within areas of other human uses. Along the Israeli Mediterranean coast there are multiple secured areas and infrastructure of the military and of private companies. These areas often restrict fishing of all types and public access and therefore, are of great interest for this study that will examine integration of marine conservation in areas and infrastructure where public access is limited. Cooperation between marine conservationists and the industry and military may promote environmental causes in countries where environment issues are not of high priority like in Israel. Conservation of the marine environment should include minimizing negative effect of human activity on the marine environment in areas which are dedicated for human use and therefore, construction along the coast should consider marine conservation on one hand, and on the other hand, conservation efforts could include use of existing infrastructures in the planning process.