Title:
Scientific monitoring on artificial reefs in marine protected areas of Paralimni, Ayia Napa, Amathounta, Dasoudi and Geroskipou (Tender # 36/2018, DFMR) 

Duration:
3 years (May 2019 – May 2022)

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

Project Description:

Artificial reefs are considered a valuable tool for increasing marine biodiversity, impeding illegal trawling, enhancing fish stocks, increasing marine productivity, improving small-scale coastal fisheries, and developing recreational diving. The Governmental Authority of Cyprus (Department of Fisheries and Marine Research – DFMR) supported the deployment of several artificial structures of different forms (e.g. wrecks, natural boulders, constructions with nets, amphorae, etc.) around the island to achieve those goals. The areas with the artificial reefs serve as Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) since they have been declared as “no-take zones”.

This project is the first monitoring program on artificial reefs that aims to evaluate their efficiency in terms of biological productivity and marine biodiversity enhancement in the ultra-oligotrophic waters of Cyprus. In this project, Marine and Environmental Research (MER) Lab is collaborating with other partners and the DFMR to seasonally monitor for three years the biological and physicochemical changes at the areas inside and outside (reference stations) of the MPAs.

The Contract Scope of the project is:

  • To collect physicochemical data of the five areas (bottom temperature, current direction, etc.)
  • To monitor sessile epifauna and macroalgal diversity and coverage on artificial reef structures using quadrats and Underwater Visual Census
  • To conduct ichthyoplankton analysis at nursery and spawning areas
  • To deploy fish surveys using commercial fishing techniques and underwater visual census (UVCs) techniques
  • To undertake night UVC surveys for nocturnal species