CoCoNet Press Release
MARINE PROTECTED AREAS AND SMALL SCALE FISHING CAN COEXIST IN THE BLACK AND MED SEAS
Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) are expanding fast and their establishment is motivated by high-level policy commitments. One of the predominant challenges in marine conservation is to sustain the benefits of fisheries in the face of rapidly changing environment.
Small-scale fisheries traditionally represent an important share of the fisheries sector in the Mediterranean and Black Sea and their considerable role is known for many years. They have the potential to contribute significantly to food security, economic growth and rural development and to provide valuable employment opportunities. Small-scale fisheries are strongly linked in local communities, reflecting often historic links with traditions, culture and values. However, there is little information at the regional level on their production and socio-economic dimension, on their contribution to sustainable development and to the preservation of marine ecosystems. Despite their socio-economic importance, small-scale fisheries face today many challenges.
Fishers feel often exclusion from public policy processes and decision-making, overexploitation of stocks, sometimes competition for space and resources with industrial fisheries, mostly purse seiners and trawlers, and other coastal activities. Scarcity of data on fishing effort and catches, lowcapacity in data collection and in monitoring, control and surveillance and management of the sector represent the most important difficulties.
Small-scale fisheries are generally characterized by the use of a large number of boats of low tonnage, extremely diversified and selective low-impact fishing gear targeting a wide variety of species.The management objectives of MPAs and of small-scale fisheries are common in many aspects. Small scale-fisheries and protected areas can coexist and be integrated in a sustainable way, creating synergies and opportunities. There are a number of examples in the world that the establishment of MPAs has brought positive effects on the fish stocks in the coastal areas, thus, on the small-scale fisheries as well.
What can we do to promote the coexistence of small-scale fisheries and MPAs? We can support the diversification of small-scale fisheries activities, flagship the sustainability of small-scale fisheries practices and the quality of products, encourage the protection of the coastal zones as priority areas for small-scale fisheries, implement measures to limit and monitor the growing fishing effort, improve planning and decision-making mechanisms aimed at fisheries and MPAs and ensure the representation of small-scale fishers in MPAs governance processes. MPA managers also should take it into consideration to improve communication with fishermen and scientists, as well as to identifly groups of stakeholders of the small-scale fisheries sector to guaranty their active participation in MPA management.
The CoCoNet project aims to elaborate such guidelines and tools to enhance cooperation between all stakeholders, particularly small-scale fishers, scientists, and authorities in MPA management, before and after the designation of Marine Protected Areas in the Mediterranean and Black Sea.
The on-going Pilot Projects in the Adriatic Sea and Black Sea will soon provide the framework for such guidelines to be used for the coexistence of small-scale fisheries and MPAs in the coastal areas of these seas.