CoCoNet Press Release December 2014
MEDITERRANEAN CORALLIGENOUS COMMUNITIES AND THEIR CONSERVATION
Coralligenous communities, colourful and rich, offer one of the most spectacular underwater seascapes in the Mediterranean Sea and they are considered as the second key-ecosystem after Posidonia oceanica meadows in the Mediterranean. These unique communities are formed by the accumulation of encrusting algae growing in dim light conditions and are characterized by high sessile animal diversity, including sponges, cnidarians, bryozoans and tunicates. With high economic and aesthetic values, these communities attract both commercial and recreational activities and are now considered as threatened habitats all over the region due to overexploitation, destructive fishing practices, pollution, urban development, diving frequentation and climate change.
In 2008 an action plan for the conservation of the coralligenous communities was adopted by contracting parties of the Barcelona Convention. Coralligenous communities are also included in the EU Habitats Directive under the generic habitat type ‘‘Reefs’’. They are now the focus of scientific investigation and conservative efforts. About 12 % of coralligenous habitats are represented within the system of Marine Protected Areas. Several attempts for reducing the cost and simplifying the monitoring of coralligenous are proposed recently. Concerted actions in the Mediterranean, especially comprising the Eastern and Southern coasts, need to be elaborated and implemented in order to ensure effective management and conservation planning of this emblematic Mediterranean community.
Under CoCoNet project, coralligenous communities in the Mediterranean have been studied intensively and detailed mapping of these habitats have been carried out.
The CoCoNet family wishes you a prosperous new year as well as our seas to be better protected in 2015….