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EMPAFISH

 

Introduction

Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) have been proposed throughout the world as an optimal way to protect marine ecosystems and associated fisheries. Two main perspectives have been recognised when addressing the purposes of MPAs: ensuring sustainability of economic resources (“conservation”), and preserving biodiversity – valuable species, habitats and landscapes (“protection”).


From a fisheries point of view, MPAs have been advocated as an insurance against uncertainties faced by traditional management measures, which induced several collapses. To be effective, MPAs have to be properly managed; this task includes defining objectives and goals from the outset, site selection, zoning, planning and implementing a surveillance and enforcement system as well as monitoring actions. In the modern conception of MPAs, local communities have to be effectively involved, as public participation and awareness are essential if proper environmental management is to be implemented.
 

Despite the popularity of MPAs, based on currently available data, little hard evidence can be presented concerning their effectiveness. Current research has shown that few generalisations can be made beyond the observation that the abundance, biomass and mean size of exploited fish populations are generally higher within protected areas than in nearby non-reserve areas. Even for these well-known effects, expected results of protection are not always evident. The existence and magnitude of the “spillover effect” is controversial due to contrasting results of the different studies.

From this analysis, it can also be concluded that most of the hypothesised effects have received little (if any) attention by researchers. Among these, we can find some effects that are potentially important for fisheries, such as increased reproductive potential of target species, and protection of genetic diversity. Apart from the scarcity of empirical studies, this lack of strong evidence is also partially a result of studies being made in isolation and, in some cases, the inadequate sampling designs adopted. Ultimately, the link between management issues and the results of protection is, at present, difficult to establish.
 

The Project

The EC project EMPAFISH (European Marine Protected Areas as tools for FISHeries management and conservation) was a 3-year research programme (March 2005 – February 2008) aiming at:

i) investigating the potential of different regimes of MPAs in Europe as measures to protect sensitive and endangered species, habitats and ecosystems from the effects of fishing;
ii) developing quantitative methods to assess the effects of marine protected areas;
iii) providing EU with a set of integrated measures and policy proposals for the implementation of MPAs as fisheries and ecosystem management tools.

To cover these objectives the project aimed at a better understanding of structure and dynamics of marine ecosystems, including their response to the impact of human activities, and to develop operational protocols and procedures in order to improve scientific advice to fisheries management combining the long experience of the partners in monitoring and evaluating the effects of MPAs and the ecological process involved and in modelling socio-economic impacts of fisheries.

The project was organised as an integrated activity with interaction between partners with different backgrounds in ecological studies, fisheries and modelling, whose activities have focused on MPAs and other problematic management issues in coastal areas. In all 14 research labs from 6 countries participated in the project, with a total of 20 case studies (Fig. 1.) where management regimes range from totally prohibited zones (“no take zones”) to protected areas where different levels of fishing are accepted either on a seasonal or activity basis, and covering a broad geographic area from the Mediterranean to the Canary Islands and the Azores. The Marine Ecology Research Group (MERG) at the Department of Biology of the University of Malta, was responsible for contributing existing data on ecological, fisheries, and socio-economic aspects of the two Malta case studies; Rdum Majjiesa to Ras ir-Raheb area and the 25 NM Fisheries Management Zone (FMZ). Where lacking, data was acquired de novo by means of field surveys and by conducting questionnaire surveys to the main stakeholder groups.

 

Pic_1

Fig.1. Map of the Mediterranean and NE Atlantic showing the location of the 20 EMPAFISH case studies.
EMPAFISH project was divided into six work packages (WPs): Targets and main findings

 

1. Ecological effects of MPAs (WP1)

WP1 was devoted to list, explore, and evaluate the ecological effects of MPAs, using data issued from the 20 EMPAFISH selected case studies. For each case study, all ecological data was compiled under a common format to allow statistical comparisons. A meta-analytical approach was used to compare fully-protected vs. unprotected situations against four potential sources of variation: time since protection, size of the marine reserve and of the buffer zone, and distance to the nearest MPA. In general the response to protection for densities of commercial species is reserve size-dependent. Increasing the size of the no-take zone increases density of commercial fishes within the reserve compared to outside. In contrast, increasing the size of the buffer zone reduced the effectiveness of the reserve. In addition to the effect of marine reserves size, there also was an effect of the time since protection. Older European marine reserves were more effective than newly implemented reserves in increasing catchable sizes of commercial fishes and in conserving fish species richness. This could be explained in part by the life span of some commercially targeted large species (e.g. Serranidae) that can live as long as 40 years. No evidence of an optimal distance between reserves was found and other factors (in addition to distance) may be playing a major role in marine reserve connectivity. In particular, accounting for habitat discontinuities and fragmentation, larval dispersal and species and disturbance dynamics will be relevant for optimised marine reserve networks. In addition, spillover is considered to be a general phenomenon, as deduced from the observation of gradients of abundance / biomass across MPA limits, although this process seems to occur at fine spatial scales.

 

2. Fisheries effects of MPAs (WP2)

One of the main goals of WP2 of EMPAFISH was to assess the effects of marine reserves on the basis of catch and landings data in order to evaluate their functioning as fisheries management tools. A spatial approach was developed to 1) estimate continuous maps of spatial distribution of fishing effort and 2) determine the factors driving the representative fishing effort allocation around 5 out of 19 EMPAFISH marine reserves (sites for which the necessary data were available). For all cases (except the 25-NM FMZ around Malta) an increased fishing effort was estimated around the borders of the respective MPAs resulting in areas of inhomogeneous effort concentrations around the borders. Distance to the border of the marine reserve was shown to have a significant influence on the fishing effort allocation and that the spatial scale of effort attraction is probably related to reserve size. Also the factor depth determined the spatial distribution of the artisanal fishing effort. EMPAFISH (WP2) has shown that the effects of MPAs on catch rates develop over long time periods, which is critically important both for management as well as for the interpretation of MPA effects. Catch and landings results suggested that, despite the high concentration of effort, a clear decline in catch rate can be distinguished with an increasing mean distance from the reserve boundaries.

 

3. Socio-economic effects of MPAs (WP3)

The aim of WP3 was to assess the socio-economic impact of human activities representing major uses of the ecosystem services provided by MPAs in Southern Europe. Due to the very limited availability of pre-existing socio-economic data, the case-studies (14) were investigated by means of a large scale socioeconomic field survey (more than 4,000 questionnaires filled), with the aim to gather homogenous information about the profile of users of MPA ecosystem services, their activity and their perception of the MPA. This information, complemented with data provided by MPA authorities and with exogenous ratios concerning commercial fishing and seaside tourism industry, was processed in order to obtain an estimation of the money incomes and jobs locally generated by MPA ecosystem services uses. Within the recreational sector, the analysis of documented cases suggests that scuba diving has a larger local economic impact than recreational fishing. Another interesting feature is the fact that estimated local money incomes generated by the investigated activities are generally significantly higher than MPA management costs.

 

4. Indicators of MPA performance (WP4)

WP4 reviewed studies that evaluated all aspects relating to the effectiveness of MPAs in order to describe how the studies were conduced and to detect fields in which research is lacking. In total 224 publications were reviewed, most concentrated on biological parameters, though there have been a few socio-economic studies. Three types of indicators were considered:
a)   Ecological indicators
a) Fisheries indicators
(c) Socio-economic indicators
Combining three different approaches – managers’ expertise knowledge, availability in institutions and statistical analysis - the suitability of each proposed parameter was evaluated. Joining the results of the three different approaches, 16 parameters were identified as good indicators to assess the effects of MPAs.

 

5.  Bio-economic modelling of MPAs (WP5)

WP5 produced a review of bioeconomic models in MPA and based on this review and the shortcomings identified, an original simulation model called “Bio-economic Analysis of Marine Protected Areas” (BEAMPA) was developed. The computer application associated to this model is freely available to the public and can be downloaded from the EMPAFISH project website.
The main scientific research and management questions that can be addressed by the current version of BEAMPA include (but are not exclusive to) the effect of adult biomass spillover on fisheries, the effect of changing the configuration of the MPA (layout, distribution of No Take Zone, network of MPAs), the effects of effort control on fisheries revenues, the impact of habitat degradation on recreational uses and total value of MPA. The overall benefit:cost ratio of Atlanto-Mediterranean Marine Protected Areas was estimated to be at least 10:1, and revenues from tourism were found to be larger than revenues from commercial fisheries. However, these results must be put in the context of the Atlanto-Mediterranean MPAs studied in EMPAFISH: in these MPAs, commercial fisheries have relatively low fishing power (mostly artisanal fisheries) and are not open access fisheries.

 

6. Management tools and policy proposals (WP6)

The aim of WP6 was to provide the EU with guidelines and tools that can be integrated into the decision-making regarding the use of MPAs as tools for fisheries management and conservation. In order to reach these objectives, WP6 employed a multi-criteria evaluation using outputs from WP1, WP2, and WP3 with a stakeholder consultation of the objectives and zoning of MPAs. Fisheries benefits were found to be maximised by having MPAs that comprise of a fully protected zone (no-take area) that is larger than the surrounding buffer zone. In general, local stakeholders of MPAs in southern Europe agree that the core objectives of establishing MPAs are conservation and fisheries management while research, education and tourism development are secondary. Data analyses showed that local stakeholders would like to see MPAs comprised of a central (no use) zone that is bordered by a regulated (no extraction) zone with an outer regulated (extraction) zone. Stakeholders viewed such an MPA to meet all the objectives of marine protection highly.

The EMPAFISH project website is located here

You can read more  about the two Maltese EMPAFISH case studies at:
1. The Rdum Majjiesa to Ras ir-Raheb MPA
2. The Malta Fisheries Management Zone


EMPAFISH publications:

WP1 Booklet
Planes, S., García-Charton, J.A., Marcos. C & Pérez-Ruzafa, A. (Coord.) 2006. Ecological effects of Atlanto-Mediterranean Marine Protected Areas in the European Union. EMPAFISH Project, Booklet nº 1. 158 pp.

WP2 Booklet
Vandeperre, F., Higgins, R., Santos,R., Marcos. C. & Pérez-Ruzafa, A. (Coord). 2006.Fishery Regimes in Atlanto-Mediterranean European Marine Protected Areas. EMPAFISH Project, Booklet nº 2. 108 pp.

WP3 Booklet
Alban,F., Appére, G & Boncoeur, J. 2006. Economic Analysis of Marine Protecetd Areas. A literature review. EMPAFISH Project, Booklet nº3.51pp.


EMPAFISH Symposium

The main results of the EMPAFISH project were presented at the European Symposium on Marine Protected Areas as a Tool for Fisheries Management and Ecosystem Conservation  held in Murcia, Spain between 25- 28 September 2007. Click here for the symposium website and to download the book of  ‘extended abstracts’ of symposium presentations.

 

EMPAFISH-related journal and conference publications by Malta Team

Claudet, J., Afonso-Santos, P., Badalamenti, F., Bayle-Sempere, J., Benedetti-Cecchi, L., Bertocci, I., Borg, J.A.,  Brito, A., Bulleri, F., Culioli, J-M., De Falco, G., De Lucia, A., Dimech, M., Domenici, P., Falcón, J.M., Forcada-Almarcha, A., García-Charton, J.A., Goñi, R., Guala, I., Marcos, C., Milazzo, M., Ojeda, C., Osenberg, C.W., Pérez-Ruzafa, A., Sánchez-Meca, J., Sánchez-Jerez, P., Schembri, P.J., Somerfield, P.J., Stobart, B., Valle, C., Vandeperre, F. & Planes, S. (2007). Regional ecological effects of European marine protected areas: a meta-analytical approach. In: Perez-Ruzafa, A., Hoffmann, E., Boncoeur, J., Garcia-Charton, J.A., Marcos, C., Salas, F., Sorensen, T.K. & Vestegaard, O. (eds) European Symposium on Marine Protected Areas as a Tool for Fisheries Management and Ecosystem Conservation. Emerging science and interdisciplinary approaches. Abstracts Book pp.57-58; EMPAFISH and PROTECT projects, Editum, Murcia: 330 pp.

Claudet, J., Osenberg, C.W., Benedetti-Cecchi, L., Domenici, P., García-Charton, J.A., Pérez-Ruzafa, A., Badalamenti, F., Bayle-Sempere, J., Brito, A., Bulleri, F., Culioli, J.M., Dimech, M., Falcón, J.M., Guala, I., Milazzo, M., Sánchez-Meca, J., Somerfield, P.J., Stobart, B., Vandeperre, F., Valle, C. & Planes, S. 2008. Marine reserves: size and age do matter. Ecology Letters, 11(5), 481-489.

Dimech, M., Camilleri, M., Gristina, M., Kaiser, M., Schembri P. J., (2005). Commercial and non-target species of deep-water trawled muddy habitats on the Maltese continental shelf. Xjenza 2005; p. 18-23

Dimech, M., Camilleri, M., Borg, J.A., Smith, I.P., Sciberras, M. & Schembri, P.J. (2007). The potential of fisheries reserves as a tool for biodiversity conservation. The case of the 25 Nautical Mile Fisheries Management Zone around Malta.  In: Perez-Ruzafa, A., Hoffmann, E., Boncoeur, J., Garcia-Charton, J.A., Marcos, C., Salas, F., Sorensen, T.K. & Vestegaard, O. (eds) European Symposium on Marine Protected Areas as a Tool for Fisheries Management and Ecosystem Conservation. Emerging science and interdisciplinary approaches. Abstracts Book p.79; EMPAFISH and PROTECT projects, Editum, Murcia: 330 pp.

Dimech, M., Camilleri, M., Hiddink, J.G., Kaiser, M.J. & Schembri, P.J. (2007). Structure of demersal assemblages under different intensities of trawling pressure on the continental shelf around the Maltese Islands (Central Mediterranean). In: Perez-Ruzafa, A., Hoffmann, E., Boncoeur, J., Garcia-Charton, J.A., Marcos, C., Salas, F., Sorensen, T.K. & Vestegaard, O. (eds) European Symposium on Marine Protected Areas as a Tool for Fisheries Management and Ecosystem Conservation. Emerging science and interdisciplinary approaches. Abstracts Book p.80; EMPAFISH and PROTECT projects, Editum, Murcia: 330 pp.

Dimech, M., Camilleri, M., Kaiser, M., Schembri P. J., (2007). Demersal assemblages on deep water trawling grounds off the Maltese Islands: Management implications. Rapport du 38e Congrès de la Commission Internationale pour l'Exploration Scientifique de la Mer Méditerranée, Vol 38: 462.

Dimech, M., Camilleri, M., Kaiser, M., Schembri P. J., (2007). Role of environmental variables in structuring demersal assemblages on trawled bottoms on the Maltese continental shelf. Rapport du 38e Congrès de la Commission Internationale pour l'Exploration Scientifique de la Mer Méditerranée, Vol 38: 463.

Dimech, M., Camilleri, M., Hiddink, J.G., Kaiser, M.J., Ragonese, S., Schembri, P.J. (2008). Differences in demersal community structure and body-size spectra within and outside the Maltese Fishery Management Zone (FMZ). Scientia Marina (submitted).

Higgins, R.M., Vandeperre, F., Pérez-Ruzafa, A., Sánchez-Meca, J., Bertocci, I., Crec’hriou, R., Criquet, G., D’Anna, G., Dimech, M., Dorta, C., Esparza, Ó., Falcón, J.M., Forcada, A., Goñi, R., Guala, I., Le Diréach, L., Lenfant, P., Lozano, I., Marcos, C., Martín, P., Martín-Sosa, P., Maynou, F., Ojeda-Martínez, C., Pipitone, C., Sánchez-Lisazo, J.L., Schembri, P.J., Stelzenmüller, V., Stobart, B., Valle, C. & Serrão Santos, R. (2007). Fisheries effects of Atlanto-Mediterranean marine protected areas. In: Perez-Ruzafa, A., Hoffmann, E., Boncoeur, J., Garcia-Charton, J.A., Marcos, C., Salas, F., Sorensen, T.K. & Vestegaard, O. (eds) European Symposium on Marine Protected Areas as a Tool for Fisheries Management and Ecosystem Conservation. Emerging science and interdisciplinary approaches. Abstracts Book p.143; EMPAFISH and PROTECT projects, Editum, Murcia: 330 pp.

Roncin, N., Alban, F., Person, J., Boncoeur, J., Marcos C., Le Diréach, L., Chrec’hriou, R., Maynou, F., Stobart, B., Guala, I., Culioli, J-M., Luna, B., Valle, C., De La Cruz Modino, R., Szelianszky, E., Higgins, R., Smith, I.P., Dimech, M. & Vaselli, S. (2007). Extractive and non-extractive uses of MPAs in southern Europe: a comparative analysis of socioeconomic field surveys. In: Perez-Ruzafa, A., Hoffmann, E., Boncoeur, J., Garcia-Charton, J.A., Marcos, C., Salas, F., Sorensen, T.K. & Vestegaard, O. (eds) European Symposium on Marine Protected Areas as a Tool for Fisheries Management and Ecosystem Conservation. Emerging science and interdisciplinary approaches. Abstracts Book p.260; EMPAFISH and PROTECT projects, Editum, Murcia: 330 pp.

Sciberras, M., Dimech, M., Smith, I.P. & Schembri, P.J. (2007). Reliability of data collected from questionnaires administered to fishers. In: Perez-Ruzafa, A., Hoffmann, E., Boncoeur, J., Garcia-Charton, J.A., Marcos, C., Salas, F., Sorensen, T.K. & Vestegaard, O. (eds) European Symposium on Marine Protected Areas as a Tool for Fisheries Management and Ecosystem Conservation. Emerging science and interdisciplinary approaches. Abstracts Book p.277; EMPAFISH and PROTECT projects, Editum, Murcia: 330 pp.

Stelzenmüller, V., Maynou, F., Cadiou, G., Camilleri, M., Crech'riou, R., Criquet, G., Dimech, M., Le Diréach, L., Esparza,Ó., Lenfant, P., Pérez-Ruzafa, Á. & Santos, R. (2007). Spatial assessment of fishing effort around European marine reserves: implications for a successful fisheries management. In: Perez-Ruzafa, A., Hoffmann, E., Boncoeur, J., Garcia-Charton, J.A., Marcos, C., Salas, F., Sorensen, T.K. & Vestegaard, O. (eds) European Symposium on Marine Protected Areas as a Tool for Fisheries Management and Ecosystem Conservation. Emerging science and interdisciplinary approaches. Abstracts Book p.287; EMPAFISH and PROTECT projects, Editum, Murcia: 330 pp.

Stelzenmüller, V., Maynou, F., Cadiou, G., Camilleri, M., Crech'riou, R., Criquet, G., Dimech, M., Le Direach, L., Esparza, O., Lenfant, P., Pérez-Ruzafa, A., Serrão Santos, R. (2008). Spatial assessment of fishing effort around European marine reserves: Implications for a successful fisheries management. Conservation Biology (submitted).

Vandeperre, F., Higgins, R.M., Pérez-Ruzafa, A., Sánchez-Meca, J., Bertocci, I., Crec’hriou, R., Criquet, G., D’Anna, G., Dimech, M., Dorta, C., Esparza, Ó., Falcón, J.M., Forcada, A., Goñi, R., Guala, I., Le Diréach, L., Lenfant, P., Lozano, I., Marcos, C., Martín, P., Martín-Sosa, P., Maynou, F., Ojeda-Martínez, C., Pipitone, C., Sánchez-Lisazo, J.L., Schembri, P.J., Stelzenmüller, V., Stobart, B., Valle, C. & Serrão Santos, R. (2007). Quantitative assessment of fisheries effects of Atlanto-Mediterranean Marine Protected Areas: a meta-analytical approach. In: Perez-Ruzafa, A., Hoffmann, E., Boncoeur, J., Garcia-Charton, J.A., Marcos, C., Salas, F., Sorensen, T.K. & Vestegaard, O. (eds) European Symposium on Marine Protected Areas as a Tool for Fisheries Management and Ecosystem Conservation. Emerging science and interdisciplinary approaches. Abstracts Book p.300; EMPAFISH and PROTECT projects, Editum, Murcia: 330 pp.


Other works are in various stages of preparation.


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Last Updated: 15 October 2010

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