France has designated the Etang de Salses-Leucate (Salses-Leucate coastal lagoon) as its 46th Wetland of International Importance. The Site (Ramsar Site no. 2307), which consists of the lagoon and its peripheral wetlands, represents a typical Mediterranean coastal area.
A wide range of habitats with different levels of salinity, depth and vegetation cover provide favourable conditions for a range of animal and plant species, most notably birds such as the locally-rare common snipe Gallinago gallinago and Eurasian curlew Numenius arquata, turtles such as the European pond turtle Emys orbicularis, bats such as the vulnerable long-fingered bat Myotis capaccinii and a large number of fish, including the critically endangered European eel Anguilla anguilla.
The Site is also important for its fisheries, with traditional fishing techniques still practiced, and for its regulatory functions such as flood control, water purification and groundwater recharge and discharge.
Special attention is paid to minimize the effect on the Site of the significant tourism and recreation. Visitor facilities include an interpretation centre and trails around the pond while various public awareness activities can be enjoyed in summer. Other potential issues include urbanisation, drainage, salinisation and invasive alien species. A management plan for the Site is being implemented and a restoration plan is being prepared.