Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) have been widely promoted as an essential tool for preserving fisheries resources, recovering marine biodiversity and ecosystem properties. The EU Biodiversity Strategy targeted a 30% of the EU Sea to be protected by 2030 including a 10% of strictly protected areas (no fishing allowed). However, little is known about the management measures enforced in MPAs and whether fishers comply with these measures.
The Marine and Environmental Research (MER) Lab collaborated with University of Patras and iSea on a study which aimed to enhance the effective conservation of regionally important coastal and marine biodiversity features established in MPAs in Cyprus. The Cavo Greco has been the first natural protected area established in Cyprus, and includes a no-take and restricted fishing zones. Using official data alongside fishers local knowledge and perceptions of administrative and monitoring staff of fishing authorities, information was gathered to ensure the effective protection of MPAs.
The study mapped the fishery activities of the area and identified differences between professional, recreational, and illegal fishing. It also revealed a paradox; even though the majority of the professional and recreational fishers were aware of the MPA, high illegal fishing activity was mentioned within the MPA zones. Based on managers’ and fishers’ statements this was due to the lack of: (a) information about the benefits of a MPA, (b) of enforcement on the professional and recreational fishery, (c) limited fisher’s compliance with the rules and (d) distant mooring ports that make the patrolling of the fishing activity difficult. Species composition of the fishery catches was diversified due to the large contribution in the landings by non-indigenous species, especially the rabbitfish Siganus spp. which constituted from 32.1% to 53.8%, depending on season. Findings could be incorporated in the decision-making process towards the improvement of the implementation of the revisited Common Fisheries Policy.
This research was conducted within the implementation of the ‘‘Mapping of marine Key habitats and assessing their vulnerability to fishing activities in the Mediterranean – MedKeyHabitats II Project’’ in Cyprus implemented by Marine Environmental Research (MER) Lab on behalf of UNEP-MAP-SPA/RAC with the financial support of MAVA Foundation, Switzerland, Contract n◦01_SPA/RAC_2020. The project was supported by Department of Fisheries and Marine Research of Cyprus.
More information about the project can be found here: Press for more information