CoCoNET Press Release 16

COCONET PRESS RELEASE

JUNE 2013

FIELD WORK HAS STARTED IN the MEDITERRANEAN AND the BLACK SEA ...

 

In the first 18 months of the CoCoNet Project, January 2012 – June 2013, the activities have been succssfully realized. "We had 11 workshops on several topics relevant to our aims, and a summer school on Meta-analysis. Currently, we are setting up the pilot projects, one in the Mediterranean Sea and another one in the Black Sea. The theoretical basis of the project has been updated through the workshops, and now we are passing to the field part of our work." The Coordinator of the Project, Prof. Ferdinando Boero, said lately at the interview for MedPAN.

The Pilot Projects in the Black and Mediterranean Seas have been started. Some of the field study titles of the Pilot Projects are;

  1. Collection of new geological, biological, oceanographic data in the Black and Mediterranean Seas pilot area relevant for MPAs implementation,
  2. Identification within the pilot areas key variables regarding connectivity (distance, size, strength and direction of currents, propagule supply) to be considered in the design of MPA network,
  3. Definition of what is specific to the Black and Mediterranean Seas and what can be generalised at larger scale within management plans in terms of connectivity processes.

All these information should be presented to decision makers and other stakeholders before designation of Marine Protected Areas.

Besides these, the CoCoNet facilitates other topics such as;

  1. Examination of the main natural and human driven causes of changes, potentially affecting the functioning and dynamics of the Pilot Area ecosystems and determine their implications for establishment of MPA networks,
  2. Evaluation of the impacts of offshore wind farm development on marine life near or within the pilot network of MPAs in the pilot area,
  3. Identification of socio-economic impacts caused by offshore wind farm development within the networks of MPAs.

We know very little about the actual biodiversity present in MPAs. Basic species invetory is not available for most MPAs. The distribution of habitats is not completely known. Our project will try to fill these gaps, at least from a conceptual point of view.

Habitat distributions in the Mediterranean and Black Seas are also examined. One of the key questions is where the most important habitats across the basin are found. Systematic analysis of the distribution of seagrasses, coralligenous formations, the brown algae Cystoseira as habitat formers across the two basins be will also studied.

In addition, a review has been completed of six existing and twelve proposed conservation initiatives, highlighting gaps in conservation and management planning, particularly within the southern and eastern regions of the Mediterranean and for offshore and deep sea habitats. The connections among MPAs will cover also open sea and deep sea, so as to identify vast areas based on intense connectivity. Our interest is more focused on habitats than on single species (usually fish) and the expected results will probably lead to novel findings for protecting these key habitats.


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