Implementation of a scientific monitoring program at artificial reefs in MPAs of Paralimni, Ayia Napa, Amathounta, Dasoudi and Geroskipou (Tender # 36/2018, DFMR)
3 years (May 2019 – May 2022)
Department of Fisheries and Marine Research (Republic of Cyprus)
Funded by National Resources and the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF)
Marine & Environmental Research (MER) Lab
AP Marine Environmental Consultancy Ltd
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. The areas with the artificial reefs are Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) since they have been declared as “no-take zones”.
This project was the first scientific monitoring program implemented on artificial reefs and aimed to evaluate their efficiency in terms of biological productivity and marine biodiversity enhancement in the oligotrophic waters of Cyprus. For three years, seasonal underwater surveys were being conducted at all structures, at reference stations and shallow rocky reefs mainly to assess fish abundance and biomass and coverage by sessile macroinvertebrates and seaweeds. Fishing with trammel nets was also conducted on the perimeter of the MPAs and compared to reference stations nearby to identify the spill-over effects of each MPA.
The Contract Scope of the project was:
- To conduct fishing surveys using trammel nets deployed by a professional fisherman around the perimeter of the MPAs and at reference stations
- To monitor fish abundance and biomass around or in the artificial reef structures using underwater visual census (UVC) techniques
- To monitor sessile epifauna and macroalgal diversity and coverage on artificial reef structures using quadrats and UVC
- To undertake night UVC surveys at Dasoudi to identify nocturnal fish and other mobile fauna species
- To conduct ichthyoplankton analysis in water-column samples
- To collect physicochemical data at the five areas using deployed probes
MER was monitoring and collecting data from the two artificial reef complexes and MPAs of Limassol’s district (Dasoudi and Amathounta).