Artisanal fishing represents 83% of the fishing units recorded in the Mediterranean, 59% of the personnel on board and accounts for 26% of the value of landings in the region’s fisheries*. Its socio-economic importance is therefore crucial. However, the recent analysis carried out by the FAO-GFCM (2018) on the state of Mediterranean fisheries highlights the need to improve their monitoring in order to support the policies implemented at regional level and their durability in a sustainable manner. Moreover, most of the species exploited by the different forms of coastal fisheries do not benefit from any stock monitoring or real management.

Recreational fishing is a booming activity on the Mediterranean coast, particularly in MPAs, with significant socio-economic benefits. On the other hand, the impacts and imbalances on marine resources and ecosystems that this practice generates are poorly known and underestimated.

For all fishing activities, it is therefore essential to better characterise practices and stakeholders, as well as the use of sites, in order to better manage resources and habitats and ensure that these activities are sustainable. Monitoring methods on a scale adapted to the management of Marine Protected Area (MPA) territories have already been tried out in many Mediterranean sites, especially in the north-western Mediterranean, and this experience should be of benefit to all Mediterranean MPAs. MPA managers therefore have an important role to play by participating in the collection of data on fishing to serve their management objectives and contribute to knowledge on the subject.

In the framework of its 2019-2023 strategy, MedPAN, in close synergy with its key partners (SPA/RAC, GFCM, IUCN Med, etc.) and with ongoing or completed initiatives and projects (MAVA Foundation strategy on Mediterranean fisheries, INTERREG MED projects FishMPABlue2 and Pharos4MPAs, MedMPA network project, COGITO project) is actively contributing to support the sustainable management of small-scale fisheries in MPAs. The development of a guide on fisheries monitoring became essential in 2017 to meet the needs of Mediterranean MPA managers for regionally harmonised protocols adapted to the requirements of MPA management in the Mediterranean.

The drafting of the guide was entrusted to the GIS Posidonie, a network of researchers with proven expertise in monitoring fishing in MPAs, which drew on its experience to produce this imposing work that combines exhaustiveness and accessibility

A survey of managers and organisations involved in monitoring Mediterranean MPAs, as well as exchanges with scientists, MedPAN and GIS Posidonie partner managers and the MedPAN network’s fisheries group, contributed to the construction and writing of this guide.

The guide is composed of two parts: a common core, the guide itself, which explains the context and the approach, and a series of 36 protocol sheets.

A methodological guide and 36 protocol sheets will help managers to set up coherent monitoring and to collect useful data for management

The guide sets out, proposes and orders easy-to-implement methods for characterising fishing activities, for gaining a better understanding of the pressures on the environment (habitats and species) and in the relations between fisheries stakeholders and other users. The main assessments concerning fisheries relate to:

  • The number of visitors (site use)
  • Fishing effort 
  • Catches 
  • Perceptions 
  • Socio-economic evaluation
  • History of practices, communities, memory of catches.

The guide is based on 15 decision trees that help to determine the studies or monitoring to be carried out in relation to the main management objectives of Mediterranean MPAs. These decision trees help managers to specify the questions they wish to answer and guide them in the choice of a protocol according to their knowledge of fishing activities, the characteristics of the fishery or their capacities. The graphical mode allows for the comparison of different paths and a better visualisation of the process, starting from the management goals and objectives or the protocols and the metrics they allow to obtain and monitor. 

Overview of the decision tree on the management goal: sustainable use of resources

The protocols proposed in the guide are grouped into 7 categories:

  • Site use counts (activity, distribution)
  • Activity, effort and catch surveys
  • Perception surveys (opinion)
  • Socio-economic surveys
  • Documentary research (statistics)
  • Declaration / fishing logs
  • Diving assessments
36 protocol sheets with harmonised headings explain everything the manager needs to know to implement the protocols and generate useful data for management

These protocols were drawn up from known protocols, already described in the scientific literature and, for some, recommended in guides and studies or being the subject of recommendations from national and international organisations concerning fisheries monitoring. The GIS Posidonie also drew on its own experience of monitoring professional and recreational fishing in MPAs to select the protocols that best respond to MPA management issues. The scientists, managers and fishermen involved in this monitoring contributed greatly to the development of these protocols.

The development of the guide on fisheries monitoring in Mediterranean MPAs was made possible thanks to the financial support of the MedMPA network project, the MAVA foundation, the FFEM, the OFB, the Bouches du Rhône department and the city of Marseille. 

* FAO-GFCM (2018)