Our Vision: “Mediterranean monk seal populations are thriving and key habitats protected”
Our Mission: “By joining forces and becoming the major source of financing of collaborative projects protecting the Mediterranean monk seal throughout its range, the MSA supports the concerted action needed to make lasting impact for this iconic species.”
The Mediterranean monk seal (Monachus monachus) was once common throughout the Mediterranean Sea and in parts of the adjacent Atlantic Ocean. It is one of two remaining species of ancient seals (the other is the Hawaiian monk seal) and both are at risk of extinction. A third, the Caribbean monk seal, went extinct in the 1950s.
Decades of hunting, deliberate and accidental killing by fishermen, disease, pollution, depleted fish stocks and the destruction and disturbance of habitats have taken a heavy toll on seal populations. By the year 2000, numbers had fallen to around 400–500 seals.
National and regional conservation measures such as creating marine protected areas, working with fishing communities and raising awareness among diverse stakeholders have borne fruit: the current population is estimated at around 800 individuals. These are concentrated at a few key sites in the Mediterranean (primarily around Greece, Turkey and Cyprus) and in Madeira and Mauritania in the Atlantic. But conservation measures must be sustained, enforced, coordinated and expanded to maintain this positive trend and ensure the species can continue to prosper.
Furthermore, two major obstacles have limited conservation progress: a lack of coordination and collaboration among conservation actors, and a lack of sustainable, dedicated funding. The Monk Seal Alliance addresses both of these challenges. It leverages members’ knowledge of the issues and players involved in Mediterranean monk seal conservation to encourage and facilitate a strategic, cooperative approach across the species’ range, while providing conservation actors with a single, strong, issue-specific funding partner.
The MSA’s calls for projects are designed to create incentives for actors to collaborate with others in the field, avoiding duplication and waste of resources and increasing effectiveness by addressing monk seal conservation strategically, holistically and throughout the species’ range.