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There are 32 SPAMIs already established in the Mediterranean in accordance with article 9 of the SPA and Biodiversity protocol of the Barcelona Convention and the decision of COP17 in February 2012. However the representativeness is unbalanced, as only one of them (Pelagos Sanctuary) clearly embraces open seas, including deep seas.

The aim of a Joint Management Action of the European Community with the United Nations Environment Programme/Mediterranean Action Plan (UNEP/MAP) started in 2007 is to promote through the SPAMI system the establishment of a representative network of marine protected areas in the Mediterranean open seas, including the deep seas. This is a strategy to reach the Aichi 2020 target, where 10 per cent of coastal and marine areas, especially areas of particular importance for biodiversity and ecosystem services, are conserved through effectively and equitably managed, ecologically representative and well-connected systems of protected areas and other effective area-based conservation measures, and integrated into the wider landscapes and seascapes. This is also stated in the decisions of COP 16 in Marrakesh and COP 17 in Paris regarding the Ecologically or Biologically Significant Areas (EBSAs) in the Mediterranean. The action is implemented by the UNEP MAP Regional Activity Centre for Specially Protected Areas (RAC/SPA) according to consecutive different phases.