Baseline survey and monitoring of Non-Indigenous Species (NIS) in two Marine Protected Areas (MPAs – Natura 2000) (Tender # 26/2016, DFMR)

2 years (January 2017 – December 2018)

Funded by:
Department of Fisheries and Marine Research (Republic of Cyprus)

Project partners:
Marine & Environmental Research (MER) Lab – Coordinator
AP Marine Environmental Consultancy Ltd

Collaborator experts:
Dr Stelios Katsanevakis
Dr Argyro Zenetos
Dr Fabio Crocetta
Dr Vasilis Gerovasileiou
Dr Konstantinos Tsiamis

Project Description:
Favoured by warming and its proximity to the Suez Canal, Cyprus marine Non-Indigenous Species (NIS) number has been steadily increasing.
Particular vulnerability to the introduction of new NIS has been observed to the south-east (Cavo Greco area). For this reason, MER has been assigned by the Department of Fisheries and Marine Research (DFMR) to coordinate a two-year project and collect seasonal data with diver censuses in two marine protected areas (MPAs) of the Natura 2000 network (KAVO GKREKO: CY3000005 and THALASSIA PERIOCHI NISIA: CY3000006), which have been justified as “hot-spots” for NIS.

The overall objective of the project is to:
(i) Collect qualitative and quantitative baseline information about the non-indigenous and indigenous species in the two areas of interest,
(ii) Initiate a monitoring of the non-indigenous species in the 2 areas of interest.

The baseline survey and monitoring will aim at all Macroalgae, Angiosperms, Macroinvertebrates, and Fish taxa (free living and sessile; water column and benthic; in hard and soft substrates) which have to be identified to the lowest taxonomic level.
The information that will be collected through the field surveys of the project will be compiled with the relevant scientific literature to produce a comprehensive and updated inventory of the Non-Indigenous Species of Macroalgae, Angiosperms, Macroinvertebrates and Fish (with special emphasis on the IAS) in the two marine protected areas (MPAs). The project will also produce information on the species’ abundances and distribution establishment status, and pathways of introduction. Moreover the project shall provide risk assessments of two pufferfishes that are highly invasive.The outcomes of this project will assist in the management of the 2 marine protected areas regarding the NIS as well as in the assessment of the Good Environmental Status (GES) for Descriptor 2 (D2: Non-Indigenous Species) of the EU Marine Strategy Framework Directive (2008/56/EC).