The objective of this component is to assess the marine biodiversity and socioeconomic conditions of nationally nominated sites in the south and eastern Mediterranean Sea. Marine biodiversity assessments identify critical habitats, important feeding or nursery areas, and the occurrence of endangered species. In order to reliably describe the marine biodiversity and types of habitat in each area, observational surveys are undertaken by an IUCN team of national and international scientists.

All sampling is done by divers on SCUBA, and survey locations are selected based on the examination of geo-referenced aerial images of the area, pilot observations and past studies, in order to represent a wide range of habitats and the associated invertebrates, fishes, and sea grasses. Native and non-native species lists and their locations are produced from these surveys. The data is used to develop GIS spatial overlays for the different ecological values/variables. Species occurrence and distribution is critical information in the zoning of areas for different management objectives. Finally, a subset of ecological indicators are identified which would then be useful in monitoring the effectiveness of the MPA.

Socioeconomic assessment of nationally nominated sites includes supporting countries in understanding the socioeconomic conditions of sites to be designated, and integrating socioeconomic monitoring within sites that have already been designated. IUCN uses social science methodology to understand the profile of the local community and the human-resource interaction, and to identify indicators for post-designation monitoring. Finally, appropriate long-term management, funding, and governance mechanisms are proposed to enhance the sustainability, of the MPA.

IUCN-Med is currently involved in projects in the following countries: