The objective of the FishMPABlue2 project is to test a set of measures on the field to improve the governance of small-scale fisheries in Mediterranean Marine Protected Areas.

The 11 MPAs involved in this project are therefore tasked with selecting the measures that seem relevant to them in view of their field problems and to define and implement a calendar of activities to test them. This work, called the Pilot Project Implementation Plan (PPIP), is done in agreement with the fishermen in the area.

The PPIP of the Côte Bleue Marine Park in France, one of the participating MPAs, was approved in July 2017 by the local governance committee composed of the park management organisation and local fishermen. It is now validated by the local fishermen organisation (1st prud’home of the city of Martigues.)

This PPIP focuses on 3 key measures: 1) Encourage the engagement of fishermen with regular fisheries meetings – 2) Increase the surveillance at sea effort – 3) Enhance the value of the fishing activity and its products.

The context

The fishermen of the Côte Bleue Marine Park are experiencing the same difficulties of resource scarcity and usage conflicts as elsewhere, but the history of this park has facilitated a constructive dialogue between fishermen and managers.

The Côte Bleue Marine Park was created in 1983 on the basis of experimental cooperation between public authorities and professional fishing to implement a programme for the sustainable development of this activity, the protection of the marine environment , and public awareness.

The Côte Bleue Marine Park has no legal authority to intervene at sea, and it is therefore only on the basis of consensus that the regulations and arrangements of the Public Maritime Domain have been adopted and authorised by the State.

The basis of this co-construction is based on the dialogue with the professional fishing organisations, and in particular the Prud’homies[1] of Marseille and Martigues, which share the Côte Bleue territory. But over the last three decades, changes in fishing management have led to a situation of regular professional fishing organisations upheavals. This situation varies, but it can be noticed that the organisation fluctuates more and more according to professional elections, and that local relays sometimes lack.

The representation of the Côte Bleue fishermen on the Côte Bleue Marine Park Union Committee is effective, but this Union Committee, composed of local, regional and departmental elected representatives, deals above all with the formal management obligations of a public institution (budget decisions, public procurement, territorial civil service, …). And despite daily contact with individual fishermen in the ports, there are no regular formal consultation meetings. There is therefore a growing need for more regular contacts and collective exchanges of fishermen with the Côte Bleue Marine Park and especially with the State services in charge of fisheries, regulations and controls.

Because the professional fishermen of the Côte Bleue Marine Park are currently experiencing declining landings and therefore income. They are also facing competition from recreational fishing, a growing activity, which targets the same species as the professional fishermen and which induces a phenomenon of illegal sale of the products of this fishery. It has been demonstrated on the Côte Bleue that the catches of recreational fishing is equivalent to that of professional fishing in the territory.

Measures to be tested in the framework of the FishMPABlue2 project

Encourage fishermen’s engagement: fishing update meetings

Every 6 months regular meetings with the fishermen, the maritime administration and the Côte Bleue Marine Park will be organised. These meetings will have several objectives:

  • For professional fishermen: regularly and collectively exchange with the state services in charge of the sea and fishing, in order to raise field issues;
  • For the State services: directly inform fishermen about the administrative and regulatory changes related to their activity, as well as the State’s priorities in terms of resource management, control, management of different uses at sea, or the environment;
  • For the Côte Bleue Marine Park: publicise the projects of the MPA, present the results of certain studies, and direct its action in a more concerted manner on the objective of sustainable development of the coastal fishery.

A meeting has already taken place in April 2017, the other three meetings are scheduled for 2018.

Increase surveillance at sea

The surveillance effort deployed by the Côte Bleue Marine Park is very important: it amounts to 2,500 hours per year and 2.5 FTEs (Full Time Equivalent). However, it is mainly focused on the high summer period, because of the possibility of recruiting seasonal staff between April and September.

The patrolling effort in winter will therefore be increased by recruiting a field agent. Surveillance will be intensified in the no-take reserves, especially at night, as well as throughout the entire area of the Côte Bleue Marine Park, during the period in which competition between professional and recreational fishermen is the strongest (especially for Sparidae). The objectives are:

  • Increase the presence at sea to better detect abnormal activities;
  • Improve intervention synergies with state surveillance services and the local Semaphore (navy surveillance of the sea) to detect illegal professional and leisure activities that require sanctions;
  • Preventively or repress on fishing offenses.[2]

A field agent was hired by the Côte Bleue Marine Park from October 1 to December 31, 2017 and from January 1 to March 31, 2018.

Promote sustainable fishing: enhancing the value of the fishing activity and its products

The aim here is to give impetus to a local fisheries promotion approach. This is a parallel approach to the deployment of the FishMPAblue2 project tools, and is part of longer deadlines.

Enhancing the value of local fishing products is considered as an important axis by the professional fishermen, some of which are already engaged in one-off approaches, or towards a diversification of their activity with Pesca-tourism.

Here too, in the context described above of declining landings and income, a enhancing the value of the activity of professional fishermen and the products of local fisheries to the public and customers can help stabilise the fishing effort, even to diminish it. The action will consist in:

  • Reviewing existing value enhancing tools already tested elsewhere;
  • Selecting possible actions to implement with fishermen;
  • Designing and producing tools resulting from this analysis;
  • Accompanying fishermen on the ground to adopt these tools.

A study will be launched in early 2018 to assess the needs of fishermen. Then, the Côte Bleue Marine Park will work on the tool (s) to be implemented in the Côte Bleue ports in order to promote fishery products (eg brochure, recipe cards, sustainable local fishing labeling, facebook site, “fish dating” , cooking festival, etc.). A first product test should be done in 2018.

The FishMPABlue2 project is a project of the Interred Mediterranean Programme of the European Commission. It is 85% co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund. The project has a duration of 3 years, from November 2016 to October 2019 with a budget of 3.5 million euros. It includes 8 partners (Federparchi, MedPAN, CoNISMa, WWF Adria, University of Nice Sophia Antipolis, WWF Mediterranean, IUCN Mediterranean and APAM) and 6 associated partners (GFCM, MedWet, the French Agency for Biodiversity, SPA/RAC, the Institute of Republic of Slovenia for the protection of nature, the Spanish Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Environment).

[1] The fishing prud’homies of France are communities of artisanal fishermen that were born in France in the Middle Age on the Provence Mediterranean coasts and were able to survive in spite of regime changes while being supervised by the central authority.

[2] Apart from the specific programme to be applied on the Côte Bleue, the Marine Park will participate in a joint approach with MEDPAN to study with the Regional Committee of Maritime Fisheries the possibilities of habilitating members of the PMCB as maritime marshals.