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Israel Approves Ecological Treaty to Preserve Endangered Species Around Mediterranean Basin

Israel was among 16 nations around the Mediterranean basin to approve a treaty protecting the ecological integrity of the inland sea and sites of archaeological or historical nature on its shores or submerged.

Under the treaty, the fifth to be approved by the Mediterranean countries in the past six years, the participating governments will establish about 100 protected zones to preserve endangered speciessuch as monk seals, sea turtles and pelicans. Others would serve as habitats for migratory birds or combine public beaches with nearby archaeological or historical sites.

Special protected zones will be created for underwater archaeological remnants such as sunken Phoenician ships and still others will be earmarked as breeding grounds for exploitable fish and shell fish. They would offer scientists research “sanctuaries” and protect “genetic diversity.”

The Mediterranean, like most busy water ways bounded by heavily populated countries, has suffered pollution in recent decades. Scientists attending a conference held here in connection with the treaty said, “While it is too early to claim that the Mediterranean has been saved, it is not getting sicker and the prognosis is good.” An Israeli delegation participated in the conference, along side delegates from all of the Arab countries of the Mediterranean littoral.