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Promoting fish recovery in the Karaburun – Sazan Marine Protected Area (MPA)

Between January and June 2016 the Albanian Association for Protection of Aquatic Wildlife of Albania (APAWA) and MedReAct carried out the Project “Promoting fish recovery in the Karaburun – Sazan MPA” with financial support from the Waitt Foundation, .

The Project’s overall objective was to raise public and decision-makers’ awareness on the need to enforce marine conservation measures in Albania, provide for the recovery of depleted fish stocks and promote sustainable fisheries, in particular by:

  • exposing the state of fish communities in the Karaburun-Sazan MPA, assessed by the Waitt marine expedition in Albania in 2015;
  • disseminating the Waitt expedition findings to decision-makers, local fishing communities, scientists, NGOs, EU institutions in Albania and the local media;
  • engaging with stakeholders and authorities to ensure fisheries enforcement in the MPA; and
  • sharing the results from an Italian no-take area to provide Albanian fishermen and fisheries managers with an example of best fishing practice.

The Project engaged with the Vlora fishermen community and other relevant institutions such as the General Fisheries Directorate of the Ministry of Agriculture, the national and local branch of the Agency of Protected Areas, the Vlora Fisheries Inspectorate, the Ministry of Environment, the University of Vlora, the Agricultural University of Tirana, environmental NGOs and experts on fisheries and marine environment.

Download the final report: Promoting fish recovery in the Karaburun – Sazan Marine Protected Area (MPA).

THE FAILURE TO PROTECT KEY NURSERY GROUNDS IN THE ADRIATIC. THE CASE OF THE JABUKA/POMO PIT

The Central Adriatic Jabuka/Pomo Pit is an area in which the combination of regional hydrography, low benthic biomass, and sedimentological factors provides the conditions to support a key nursery ground for commercial species subject to persistent overfishing such as hake, deep water rose shrimp and Norway lobster by the Italian and Croatian fishing fleets.

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The Jabuka/Pomo Pit

Scientific advice to protect the Jabuka/Pomo Pit long went unheard. It was only in 1998 that Italy established a small no-take area, closed to all commercial and recreational fisheries. This area – defined as a Zone of Biological Protection (Zona di Tutela Biologica – ZTB) – was reopened to fisheries in 2003 and closed again in 2009. In 2011, the prohibition on trawling in the ZTB was reconfirmed in the Italian Management Plan for Demersal Fisheries in the Adriatic.

Despite these repeated rulings, fisheries continued undisturbed. The following maps indicate constant fishing activities in the ZTB (marked in black) by the Italian fishing fleet in the years 2012-2014.

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VMS from the Italian fleet in the Adriatic (R. Elahi, Stanford University)[1]

But beyond the ZTB, scientists from the FAO AdriaMed Project had long called for wider protection of the Jabuka/Pomo Pit.

In 2010 AdriaMed summarised over 50 years of investigations in the Jabuka/Pomo Pit, noting that:

  1. The exploitation pattern of hake and Norway lobster is far from optimal, meaning that with the same fishing effort, the quantity landed could be increased or alternatively the same landings could be obtained with less fishing effort. This exploitation pattern is the result of the unselectivity of the bottom trawl nets catching large amounts of juveniles and undersized hake, even when fully utilising the larger mesh size introduced by Council Regulation 1967/2006.
  2. The negative trends in demersal stock biomass over the past 20 years show that the resource is exploited at unsustainable levels.

AdriaMed examined long-term, spatial management options based on the fact that hake is a long-lived species therefore short-term fishing closures cannot be expected to produce substantial effects. Noway lobster is also a relatively long-lived species which, during the first year of its life, remains hidden in the burrows and cannot be taken by trawlers, therefore short temporal closures will be ineffective.

The scientists recommended an experimental three-year closure, to be reviewed on the basis of the results from annual monitoring. Several area sizes were presented as possible options to protected a larger or smaller portion of the nursery grounds.

It wasn’t until 2015 that the Italian and Croatian administrations jointly closed – initially for one year – a wider area of the Jabuka/Pomo Pit to towed gear, which included a part of the Italian ZTB.

Although this new no-trawl zone (marked in grey in the VMS maps above) only partly covered all the key nurseries, when complemented with a fully enforced ZTB, it would have offered an initial significant decree of protection if, as originally planned, the temporal closure was extended or made permanent.

However, just one year later the Italian government, under pressure from the trawling industry, retreated from its original plans and unilaterally reopened the area to trawlers, leaving only a very small portion closed to fisheries. In addition the ZTB was abolished and  although new measures were introduced to reduce fishing effort, the Pomo/Jabuka lost the level of protection required for the most important nursery grounds of the Adriatic and for the recovery of its depleted fish stocks.

MedReAct and the Adriactic Recovery Project are calling on Italy to reconsider its decision, resume the collaboration with Croatia on the Pomo/Jabuka Pit and ensure the permanent and wider protection of the area key nurseries and spawning grounds.

[1] Vessel Monitoring Systems (VMS) is a general term to describe systems that are used in commercial fishing to allow environmental and fisheries regulatory organizations to track and monitor the activities of fishing vessels.

NASCE L’ADRIATIC RECOVERY PROJECT

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NASCE L’ADRIATIC RECOVERY PROJECT 

L’ Adriatic Recovery Project nasce a fine 2016 per promuovere il recupero degli ecosistemi  e degli stock ittici  del mare Adriatico. Il Progetto è coordinato da MedReAct in collaborazione con la Stanford University, il Politecnico delle Marche, Legambiente e Marevivo.

Insieme al mar Ionio, l’Adriatico ospita il 49% delle specie marine del Mediterraneo ed è considerato una delle zone più produttive per la pesca di tutto il bacino. Decenni di  sfruttamento  eccessivo hanno  provocato il forte declino degli stock ittici e la conseguente crisi che attanaglia il settore della pesca. La pesca a strascico, molto diffusa in questo mare, ha inoltre determinato una profonda modifica dei suoi equilibri, contribuendo al generale impoverimento della biodiversità marina.

Il Progetto ha come obiettivo l’istituzione di Fishery Restricted Areas (FRA) – ovvero di  zone in cui la pesca viene chiusa o fortemente ridotta – nelle acque internazionali dell’Adriatico che ospitano aree di riproduzione e crescita (nursery) di importanti specie ittiche o ecosistemi vulnerabili. Le FRA costituirebbero così delle “ “riserve” per il recupero di specie ittiche importanti come il merluzzo, oggi sull’orlo del collasso, e una sorta di “polmone” per il ripristino della biodiversità.

Il Progetto intende:

  • raccogliere, analizzare e divulgare dati che attestino la presenza di ecosistemi vulnerabili marini, di nursery e aree di riproduzione nelle acque internazionali dell’ Adriatico;
  • incoraggiare il coinvolgimento e la partecipazione delle realtà territoriali;
  • promuovere iniziative di sensibilizzazione e mobilitazione per la tutela dell’Adriatico.

Nei prossimi tre anni le flotte di pesca dell’Unione europea attive nel Mediterraneo, dovranno raggiungere gli obiettivi di sostenibilità della nuova Politica Comune della Pesca. E’ una sfida importante che richiederà l’impegno di istituzioni, del settore della pesca e delle organizzazioni della società civile anche in Adriatico.

Il nostro Progetto intende offrire un contributo a questa difficile sfida, il cui esito determinerà non solo il futuro del nostro mare e della sua biodiversità ma anche quello delle tante piccole comunità di pescatori responsabili che ancora resistono intorno al Mediterraneo.

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MedReAct contribution to the Western Mediterranean multi annual management plan

MedReAct contributionIn May 2016 the European Commission launched a public consultation on the Multiannual plan for the fisheries exploiting demersal stocks in the Western Mediterranean Sea.

Fish stocks in the Mediterranean are in a critical situation and some are on the verge of collapse. According to the most recent assessments, 93% of demersal fish stocks in the Western Mediterranean Sea are overfished.

The aim of the Commission’s consultation  is to contribute to  the achievement of the Common Fisheries Policy objectives, in particular the long term sustainability of fish stocks and the implementation of the ecosystem-based approach to fisheries management.

MedReAct welcomes this public consultation and the opportunity  to provide  its  views and recommendations to improve the state of demersal fish stocks and of marine ecosystems critical to their recovery.

  •  MedReAct contribution available here.
  •  More information on the public consultation available here.
  •  The latest review of the State of Fish stocks in the Mediterranean here.

Promoting Fish Recovery in Albania

13177547_871258799686795_4233799563262271787_nThanks to the support from the WAITT Foundation, MedReAct and the Association for Protection of Aquatic Wildlife of Albania (APAWA),  are jointly working to promote fish recovery in the only    Albanian Marine Protected Area of Karaburun – Sazan.

This Project is based on the scientific findings of the WAITT Institute Marine Expedition carried out in  Albania in June 2015,   on national fisheries statistics and catch data from the fishermen community in Vlora.

The results from these activities were presented on May 13th, 2016 at a workshop organized in Vlora with  national and international experts from European institutions and organizations engaged on fisheries, aquaculture or the protection of marine ecosystems.

 

MEDITERRANEAN FISH STOCKS ON THE BRINK

State of commercial fish stocks in the Mediterranean EU waters
State of commercial fish stocks in the Mediterranean EU waters

On the eve of the High Level Seminar on Mediterranean Fish Stocks (Catania, 9-10 February 2016), organized by the European Commission (EC), MedReAct warns that Mediterranean stocks are running out of time. While a number of EU stocks in Northern Europe begin to show recovery signs, scientific advice on the Mediterranean paints a far breaker picture.  Despite success stories like the partial recovery of bluefin tuna, in the Mediterranean stocks are largely overfished and/or in a bad state, in particular stocks exploited mainly or exclusively by the EU fleets. According to the EC, of all stocks assessed in the Mediterranean and the Black Seas:

  • 96% of the EU stocks are overfished, with an average ratio of current fishing three times higher than fishing at sustainable level. For stocks such as hake, red mullet, black bellied anglerfish and blue whiting, current fishing mortality rates have been more than six times higher than sustainability levels (MSY) [1].
  • 91% of stocks shared with Third countries are exploited well above MSY, with an average ratio of current fishing two times higher than fishing at MSY level.

Under the reformed EU Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), fishing limits must be set at sustainable/MSY levels no later than 2020. To comply with the CFP and stop overfishing, scientists are calling for the average reduction of fishing effort in the Mediterranean between 50% and 60%. However, even this may not be sufficient.

A new study [2] by Daniel Pauly and Dirk Zeller, from the Sea Around Us Project, “reconstructed” fish catch levels utilizing data missing from official sources, such as from recreational fisheries, discards, and illegal fishing, and found that between 1950 and 2010, Mediterranean catches were 50% higher than reported by FAO and are declining more strongly since the 1990s.

For some of the Mediterranean countries such as Italy, the study estimates that in the same time period “the total catch was 2.6 times the data presented by FAO” and that illegal unreported fishing represented 54% of all catches. For France, Mediterranean catches were calculated more than twice the official data, whereas for Greece the reconstructed catches were 57% larger than the nationally reported data for the same time period.

“This dramatic situation calls for immediate measures to combat illegal fishing, reduce fishing effort, introduce recovery plans for those species most at risk and close nursery and spawning areas to allow the sea to recover” said Domitilla Senni from MedReAct, an environmental organisation that promotes actions for the recovery of Mediterranean marine biodiversity.

[1] Maximum sustainable yield (MSY) is the largest average yield, or catch, that can theoretically be taken from a species’ stock under constant environmental conditions without having an impact on the long-term stability of the population.

[2] Catch reconstructions reveal that global marine fisheries catches are higher than reported and declining. Daniel Pauly & Dirk Zeller. January 2016.

Documentary about co-management fisheries in Catalonia

Lydia Chaparro, from our partner organization Fundació ENT, has taken part in a TV documentary (Latituds program) on overfishing and co-management plans in the Mediterranean.

In the Catalonia region, all major stakeholders: fishermen, scientists, local government and NGOs, have been working together to establish the process and rules for the sustainable management of three species in a given area (Mediterranean sandeel in Maresme, shrimp in Palamós and hake in Roses) with the aim to ensure environmental, social, and economic benefits in the long term.