NEWS

Mediterranean populations only have themselves to blame for the continuing ecological destruction

The Mediterranean environment is in deep trouble, largely due to the activities of its own population. The unrestricted development of its coastal areas, pollution and overconsumption of everything the sea has to offer is now having very visible effects on the societies surrounding it and on their economies. A revealing report by the European Environmental Agency, focusing on 21 Mediterranean countries and the environmental problems they face, warns of worse to come. -Albania. After most factories were obliged to close down after 1991, stockpiles of obsolete chemicals, solid waste and untreated urban wastewater were released into the sea. There has been widespread mercury contamination of the soil and water resources around Vlore Bay from the factories that previously operated there, while the Gulf of Sarande is described as deteriorated. – Bosnia-Herzegovina. Large quantities of waste are carried to the coast, which stretches for just 25 kilometers, by the Neretva and Trebisnjica rivers. – Croatia. Rapid tourism development and urbanization has led to the destruction of coastal habitats and eutrophication of the sea. The biggest problems are in Kastela Bay around Split, and in the county of Primorsko-Goranska. – Serbia-Montenegro. There is no processing of urban or industrial waste in coastal towns, resulting in eutrophication of the sea and microbial pollution. – Slovenia. The environmental problems of this short coast (just 46.6 kilometers) are chiefly a result of runoff into the sea of effluents from former mines and widespread urbanization. – Turkey. Rampant urbanization, the siting of major industrial areas on the coast, erosion and the widespread use of pesticides are the main environmental threats to the coast. Both urban and industrial waste ends up in the Gulf of Izmir. The Gediz and Bakircay rivers transport considerable nutrient loads to the sea, resulting in eutrophication. – Cyprus. There is not much industrial waste but overurbanization and alteration of the coastal regions have taken their toll. There are particular problems in the bays of Limassol, Liopetri, Ayia Napa and Vassilikos. – Israel. The regions around Haifa and Tel Aviv are seriously affected by effluent from industries and ports. The limited extent of the Mediterranean coastline (15 kilometers) is highly urbanized. – Lebanon. Urban effluents are discharged into the sea untreated. Most of the coastline is built up. The main problems are around Tripoli and Beirut. – Syria. Untreated urban and industrial waste is discharged into the sea. Heavy metal levels are high. – Egypt. The biggest problems are on the coast around Alexandria and Port Said, where urban and industrial waste flows into the sea. – Algeria. No processing of waste before it is dumped in the sea. Petroleum hydrocarbon slicks from refineries and coastal erosion are the biggest problems. – Libya. The biggest problems are pollution from oil slicks and oil terminal facilities and only partial treatment of waste from larger towns. – Tunisia. The dumping of toxic urban waste into the sea and widespread urbanization along the coastlines are the biggest problems. The Gulf of Gabes and the Sfax coastal zone are polluted by toxic waste. – Morocco. Widespread and sudden urbanization has led to a deterioration of the coastline. Heavy maritime traffic has also resulted in widespread pollution. – Italy. The biggest environmental problems along the coast are due to urban and industrial waste, agricultural runoff and shipping. Trieste, Liguria and Lazio have the worst problems. – Malta. Concentration of economic activity on the southern side of the island has led to environmental problems there. – France. Major rivers carry pollution from hydroelectric, nuclear and chemical plants to the sea. At the same time the coastal zone is being built up rapidly, resulting in stretches of up to 100 kilometers being concreted over. – Monaco. Everything is recycled or treated, including storm water, but there is no natural coastline. – Spain. Many areas continue to be without waste processing plants. The coastal zone is highly urbanized, resulting in a loss of its vulnerable ecosystems.