Mapping marine Key habitats and assessing their vulnerability to fishing activities (MedKeyHabitats II Project)

1 year (February 2020 – February 2021)

Funded by:
MAVA Foundation

Subcontracted by:
Regional Activity Centre for Specially Protected Areas (SPA/RAC)

Department of Fisheries and Marine Research (Republic of Cyprus)
Dr Dimitrios K. Moutopoulos and Professor George Katselis (University of Patras)
Stephanos Charalampous (Geomatic Technologies)

Project Description:
Cape Greco is a Natura 2000 site (CY300005), located at the southeastern Cyprus, established in May, 2018 as the first natural Marine Protected Area (MPA) of Cyprus which includes no-take and restricted fishing zones.

Within the framework of the “Mapping of marine Key habitats and assessing their vulnerability to fishing activities in the Mediterranean” project (Medkeyhabitats II project), SPA/RAC collaborated with the Cyprus governmental authority — Department of Fisheries and Marine Research (DFMR) — to help the development of adequate technical support and capacity building for the planning and proper management of the marine protected areas in Cyprus. The project aimed to assist the competent authority of Cyprus to undertake a Socio-economic study and an evaluation of the vulnerability of Posidonia Meadows to fishing activities in Cape Greko MPA.

A contract between the Regional Activity Centre for Specially Protected Areas and Marine and Environmental Research (MER) Lab was signed in February 2020, for MER Lab to study and evaluate the risks imposed to key species and habitats, mainly to Posidonia oceanica (Linnaeus) Delile, 1813 meadows, by the fishing activities in the Cape Greko MPA. Several maps were produced to visualize the presence, vulnerability and sensitivity of habitats in the area, the interactions with each fishing technique (including illegal activities) in the different zones of the MPA. In addition, other pressures such as marine litter and invasive species were monitored, while permanent monitoring stations for Posidonia oceanica were established and baseline data collected. A large number of interviews were conducted with fishers (professional and recreational) and other stakeholders.

Briefly, MER Lab provided the following services:

  1. Set up of six monitoring systems for P. oceanica meadows in Cape Greko MPA. The monitoring systems were set up using standardised methods developed by the Posidonia Monitoring Network (PMN) (Pergent, 2007; Kletou et al., 2018);
  2. Identification, quantification, spatial and temporal distribution of commercial and recreational fishing activities and unauthorized (illegal) fishing in Cape Greco MPA;
  3. Measured the interactions and impacts of the fishing activities on the key habitats of the MPA, assess risks, and identified mitigation measures;
  4. Evaluated the socio-impacts of invasive fish species in Cape Greko MPA as pilot study;
  5. Carried out a sensitivity assessment of the marine habitats and in particular of P. oceanica meadows against regulated and/or non-regulated fishing activities;
  6. Filled out the Standard Data-Entry Form (SDF) for the area, an operational tool for the assessment of the significance of the site for habitats and species.