Marine and coastal biodiversity

Lebanese waters represent less than 1% of the world’s ocean surface. However, almost 6% of all global marine species are found in those waters (SOER, 2011). This phenomenon can be explained by various historical, ecological and paleo-geographical factors. The Lebanese coastal and marine flora is considered to be Mediterranean with some subtropical features, whilst the majority of marine species and ecosystems are typically Mediterranean. In a study conducted by the University of British Columbia and the University of Balamand in Lebanon, the historical fish catch reconstruction was done for Lebanon from 1950 till 2010. It is calculated that 7,100 tons of fish were caught in 2010 (Nader, 2014).

The report “Lebanon’s Marine Protected Area Strategy” was developed within the context of the project “Supporting Management of Important Marine Habitats and Species in Lebanon” (2010-2012), implemented by the Lebanese Ministry of Environment (MoE) and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The aim of the Strategy is the establishment of a network of marine protected areas, established and managed within an integrated marine management framework, that contributes to the health of Lebanon's sea and marine environment. 

Two reports “Ecological_Characterization of Sites of Interest for Conservation in Lebanon” for Enfeh Peninsula, Ras Chekaa Cliffs, Raoucheh, Saida, Tyre and Naqoura marine areas and "Ecological characterization of potential new MPA s in Lebanon" for Byblos, Batroun and Medfoun marine areas, have been prepared by the Regional Activity Centre for Specially Protected Areas  SPA/RAC, in close collaboration with the Lebanese Ministry of Environment (MoE), based on field biodiversity assessment carried out by experts from SPA/RAC in cooperation with experts from NCSR-NCMS, Lebanese UniversityIUCN and University of Alicante. These activities were carried out within the framework of the Regional Project for the Development of a Mediterranean Marine and Coastal Protected Areas (MPAs) Network, through the boosting of Mediterranean MPAs creation and management (MedMPAnet Project) executed at regional level by  SPA/RAC. The Project's general objective is to enhance the effective conservation of regionally important coastal and marine biodiversity features, through the creation of an ecologically coherent MPA network in the Mediterranean region’, as required by the Barcelona Convention’s Protocol concerning Specially Protected Areas and Biological Diversity in the Mediterranean (SPA/BD Protocol).

Within the “Integrated Monitoring and Assessment programme (IMAP)” executed at regional level by the SPA/RAC, a “National Monitoring Programme for Biodiversity in Lebanon”  was prepared in 2017 by SPA/RAC in close coordination with the Ministry of Environment and it included a national monitoring programme to each of the following: Non-indigenous species (NIS), marine turtles, coastal and marine birds, fisheries, cetaceans and habitats.

 The SPA/RAC considers non indigenous/invasive species as one of the major problems requiring special attention at the regional level. In this context, a "National Action Plan on Marine Species Introductions and Invasive Species in Lebanon" was prepared in 2018 by RAC/SPA in close coordination with the Ministry of Environment .

The project “Towards Deep-Sea Conservation in Lebanon” performed the first biological survey of deep sea Lebanese waters to provide first- hand information to the Lebanese authorities, which would use it to create Deep Sea MPAs, in order to increase the protection of Lebanese waters, and specifically of ecosystems found in deep areas. These areas may be designated to protect important geological features (e.g., submarine canyons), habitats, or community types, in order to ensure the coherence and connectivity of marine protection in Lebanese waters, and to help safeguard the natural corridor of the Eastern Mediterranean basin. Oceana carried out a research cruise in Lebanese waters across five deep-sea areas (Tarablus/Batroun, Jounieh, St. George, Beirut escarpment, and Sayniq), covering some of the main underwater canyons that lie off the coast of the country. The research expedition was carried out with the financial support of the MAVA Foundation for Nature, and with the full collaboration of project partners: The Lebanese Ministry of Environment, the National Council for Scientific Research in Lebanon (CNRS-L), the Lebanese Army, IUCN Mediterranean Cooperation Center, IUCN Regional Office for West Asia (ROWA), and the Regional Activity Center for Specially Protected Areas (UN Environment/MAP SPA/RAC).