See also:

The Pelagos Agreement is rendered enforceable in France by pdf Decree n°2002-1016 of 18 July 2002 . It took a decade of discussion and information sharing before France, Italy and Monaco signed an Agreement concerning the creation of a Mediterranean Sanctuary for Marine Mammals on November 25th, 1999. After ratification by the three countries, the Agreement came into effect on February 21st, 2002. It covers a vast marine area that extends across the 87,500 sq. km of the waters of the Corso-Liguro-Provençal Basin. 

In March 1994, the Port-Cros National Park was appointed by the French Ministry for the Environment as coordinator of scientific studies and other initiatives relating to cetaceans in the northwestern Mediterranean.

Drawing on this experience, in December 1999, the Ministry for the ecology quite logically entrusted the Port-Cros National Park with the coordination and supervision of the activities of the French groups involved in implementing the Agreement (administrations, local governments, professionals, research teams, users, NGOs and charities). The first meetings enabled the development of the management strategy of the French branch. Since then, the Port-Cros National Park has worked with the groups via a consultation and partnership policy.

When the Pelagos Sanctuary was created, three specialist working groups were formed, as agreed by all partners (representatives of the Maritime Prefect for the Mediterranean, regional directors of governmental bodies in charge of seas, fisheries and the environment, and the local administrative authorities for Corsica and Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur, laboratories and scientific research units, associations engaged in furthering the knowledge and protection of marine mammals, operators of sea species observations, maritime transport businesses and professional fishing bodies). These form the working groups for ‘Research’, ‘Awareness and ‘Human activities’.

In 2006, it was suggested that the partners of the French branch should also come together for targeted projects in order to create specific initiatives in line with the tripartite priority aims. The ‘Dashboard’ became an indispensable tool from this point on: regularly updated, it provides a comprehensive overview of what needs to be done and the corresponding timeframe, acting as a clear guide for the activities of the French branch, as well as keeping all the partners of the Pelagos Sanctuary French Part up to date.

All such work is carried out under the authority of the Ministry of Environment, Energy and Sea. Discussions among group members point to the necessary complementarity of financial, human and logistical resources. The formal involvement of the organizations within these groups, through their regional representatives, shows that everyone involved is in favor of a constructive approach to the harmonious management of habitats and species that incorporates issues relating to human activities.

The Port-Cros National Park manages the French branch and acts as secretariat for all administrative and communication actions.

The National Sanctuary Committee (NSC) collects the information provided and examines all group initiatives and proposes management measures. After vetting by the Steering Committee, proposals are shared with the other partners – Italy and Monaco. The first NSC meeting took place in Ajaccio on June 10th, 2005 and was hosted by the fishermen’s union (Comité des pêches et prud’homies) and Corsica’s Environment Office. Subsequent meetings took place in Hyères in 2008 and 2013.

The ‘Research’ Working Group is responsible for establishing research priorities – which studies should be carried out and when – on the basis of current knowledge and their importance for the Sanctuary. It is also responsible for assessing all studies that are in progress or that have been completed in order to provide a scientific insight into the inherent problems of managing human activities in the Sanctuary, with a special focus on providing such an opinion at the behest of the Maritime Prefect for the Mediterranean.

A ‘stranding’ sub-group supports the work carried out as part of the national ‘stranding’ network, coordinated by GECEM for the Mediterranean.

The ‘Human Activities’ Working Group lists human activities that may have an impact on cetaceans or their habitats and defines the measures required to reduce the impact.

It acts as a think tank to combat degassing operations and oil pollution, the impact of kerosene discharges at sea and of various pollutants, including land-based ones, the ‘wake effect’ and ship strikes, professional fishing and marine-sightseeing tourism.  Fishermen, having already been made very aware of this problem, have worked alongside these efforts to reduce the impact of nets and the resulting accidental by-catches of dolphins.

The ‘Awareness’ Working Group proposes an information, communication and awareness-raising policy on the Sanctuary adapted to its different audiences (schoolchildren, professionals, tourists, local elected officials etc.). It works with the team in charge of producing awareness-raising materials (information booklet on the Sanctuary and the species within it, exhibitions, awareness campaigns etc.).