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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”). However, many of the hypothesised effects of MPAs have received little attention by researchers.

The EMPAFISH project was initiated to promote a basis for responsible and sustainable fisheries activity that contributes to healthy marine ecosystems, making an economically viable and competitive fisheries industry that guarantees a fair standard of living for those who depend on it. The primary objective was to investigate the potential of different regimes of protected areas as measures to protect sensitive and endangered species, habitats and ecosystems from the effects of fishing, using 20 case studies 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. 

A secondary objective was to develop quantitative methods to assess the effects of marine protected areas where these methods are lacking or not well suited to assess the relevant type of effects. To cover these objectives the project aimed to reach 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 processes involved, and in modelling socio-economic impacts of fisheries. 

MERG participated in this project by investigating two case studies:

  1. The Rdum Majjiesa to Ras ir- Raheb MPA
  2. The Malta Fisheries Management Zone 
The EMPAFISH project website is located at

Three booklets produced by the EMPAFISH project may be downloaded from here.

A list of publications resulting from the EMPAFISH project to which the Maltese group contributed can be found here.



Map of the Mediterranean and NE Atlantic sowing the location of the 20 EMPAFISH case studies 






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Unexpected Giant Glowing Halos around distant quasors
Last Updated: 1 December 2011

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