Establishing a fishery co-management model for Akrotiri Peninsula
4 years (August 2021 – Ongoing)
Department of Fisheries and Marine Research (DFMR), The Sovereign Base Areas of Akrotiri and Dhekelia (SBAA), Pantelis Charilaou (Environment and Conservation officer), Kostas Aristeidou (Environmental Engineer), Enalia Physis Environmental Research Centre, BirdLife Cyprus, AQUADEMIA, Cyprus Environmental Foundation, University of Cyprus, University of Plymouth, Commercial and recreational fishers individuals and associations
Blue Marine Foundation
The marine ecosystem of Akrotiri Peninsula in Limassol is renowned for being one of the most pristine and valuable marine areas of Cyprus. Since 2015, it has been designated as a Special Area of Conservation. The remote marine environment of Akrotiri encompasses a rich mosaic of coastal and marine habitats, showcasing a remarkable diversity that ranges from sea cliffs and sand dunes to underwater seagrass beds, rocky reefs, and interconnected sand corridors.
The complexity of the area attracts high levels of biodiversity, hosting numerous protected and endangered species such as the endangered Mediterranean monk seal Monachus monachus, elasmobranchs, cetaceans, groupers, the endangered loggerhead turtle Caretta caretta and the green turtle Chelonia mydas. Additionally, it serves as a migration point for the endangered devil ray Mobula mobular and a potential nursery and foraging ground for the critically endangered blackchin guitarfish (Glaucostegus cemiculus). The marine area of Akrotiri has traditionally been used as a fishing site and is considered one of the most popular fishing grounds of Cyprus, particularly for recreational fishers. Despite its undeniable ecological significance, the area’s importance has been overlooked, while human pressures pose an urgent threat to the maintenance of its favourable conservation status; threatening the ecosystem services that it provides.
This project aims to implement a dynamic co-management model following a bottom-up participatory approach to conserve the fishery resources of Akrotiri through engagement of stakeholders in research, capacity building, and data-driven decision-making. The area of interest covers the marine area extending from the village of Pissouri and eastward to Limassol New Port (~ 195 km2) at depths of up to 100 m.
The overarching goal is the establishment of an Advisory Committee, composed by stakeholders who will work closely with the government, and backed by scientific evidence to develop and suggest sustainable management measures for the Akrotiri Peninsula.
The project is split in two Phases:
Phase 1 (Implemented):
- Collection of baseline ecological data using visual census surveys and standardized protocols.
- Establishment of data loggers and permanent Posidonia oceanica stations, monitoring using the PREI index.
- Utilization of semi-structured interviews and Local Ecological Knowledge to understand changes in fishery resources throughout the years at the area of interest.
- Formulation of a consortium of stakeholders (committee) including local key stakeholders, scientists, conservationists, and local users of the area of interest, partnership-building, and collaboration.
- The development of a short documentary for the area highlighting its rich biodiversity and the threats it faces.
Phase 2 (Ongoing):
- Social Engagement: organization of activities to raise awareness (e.g. workshops/events, fisher-involved tournaments and citizen science activities) and dissemination of impactful awareness material.
- Environmental monitoring: field surveys at the locations of Phase 1 (e.g. visual fish census for fish abundance assessment, collection of physicochemical data, tow camera surveys to map habitat types and assess fishery sensitivity), collection of socioeconomic information through interviews and landing surveys.
- Establishment of the Legal Status of the Committee: formation of an Executive Advisory Committee with all relevant stakeholders, operating under a signed MoU that outline roles and responsibilities.
- Proposal of the MPA co-management model to authorities and establishment.
- Develop data sharing, research, fundraising, and decision-making elements to support the implementation of a sustainable co-management model.
- Management changes: development of sustainable measures that aim to conserve the fishery resources of Akrotiri, based on consultations and scientific data to achieve effective management and sustainable resource use.
Please check our published documentary on our YouTube Channel below.