Title: Enhancing participation from stakeholders in the Kakoskali Marine Protected Area

Country: Cyprus

MPA: Kakoskali

Beneficiary: Enalia Physis Environmental Research Centre

Partners: Pancyprian Association of Professional Fisherman ; Department of Fisheries and Marine Research (official MPA management authority in Cyprus)

Thematic: Sustainable management of marine turtles and fisheries in MPAs

Period of implementation (year): 2018-2019

Duration: 12 months

Total budget: 26 650 €

MedPAN financing: 20 000 €

Context

Kakoskali MPA is located on the north-west coast of Cyprus around the islet of Ayios Georgios (Kakoskali) in the Akamas Site of community importance (Natura 2000-CY4000010). The site is recognized for its diversity of marine habitats (Posidonia meadows, underwater caves, coralligenous-rocky reefs and sandy/muddy expanses) supporting the coexistence of diverse organisms. However, the integrity of the habitats is threatened, mainly by fishing, abandoned fishing gear, alien species and anchoring of vessels.

The Department of Fisheries and Marine Research (DFMR) from the Ministry of Agriculture, Rural Development and Environment is the authority in charge of the implementation and management of MPAs in Cyprus. The establishment of Kakoskali MPA had been under discussion for over 5 years. Faced with challenges of boundaries delineation and lack of agreement between the different stakeholders concerned, namely the government authorities and the fishers, the MPA development was stationary.

MedPAN’s Small Project

This project aimed to re-engage fishers, as well as other stakeholders, in consultations on the proposed Kakoskali MPA. The project had as an overall goal to improve the communication between the government authorities and other stakeholders, and to promote and propose a framework for the involvement of local stakeholders in the management of the MPA. Enalia Physis Environmental Research Centre acted as a mediator facilitating concertation between fishers (Fishermen’s Association of Latsi; PanCypriot association of fishermen) and the managers (DFMR).

The project had the following specific objectives:

  • Facilitate the agreement of the final boundaries of the MPA of Kakoskali by consulting with the relevant stakeholders, especially with local fishermen and the governmental authority;
  • Propose a framework for the creation of a management committee for the MPA;
  • Present the creation of Kakoskali MPA to a wider stakeholder forum.

Key outputs

Defining the Kakoskali MPA boundaries

In the context of this project, several consultation meetings were organised with government authorities and fishers to better understand the perception of the different stakeholders. After several discussions, an agreement was found upon the perimeter and location of the final boundaries of the MPA, including a no-take fishing “core zone”, and a “neutral zone” where fishing activities will be limited to professional licence holders.

Fishing activities restrictions were primarily put in place for the protection of important habitats and marine communities, but also to support the recovery of fish stocks, creating a common objective between fishers and the government. The creation of the MPA is expected to have a positive effect on fisheries (recovery).

After remobilisation of the governmental authorities, Kakoskali finally gained a formal status with its official declaration by Ministerial Decree published on 26 of July 2019 under the Fisheries Law. Kakoskali represents the first MPA in Cyprus created through a local community participation/stakeholder initiative, and is supported by the majority of local fishers.

Official boundaries of Kakoskali MPA (Land Survey Department, DFMR): core zone in red, neutral zone in green
Official boundaries of Kakoskali MPA (Land Survey Department, DFMR): core zone in red, neutral zone in green

Management Committee for Kakoskali MPA

Following this declaration, Enalia Physis Environmental Research Centre proposed a governance and partnership framework, pushing for a co-management of the MPA between the government, Enalia Physis Environmental Research Centre and an Advisory Committee (“Management Committee for Kakoskali Marine Protected Area, Cyprus Management Proposal Plan 2019-2020”). This framework was discussed with stakeholders including the management authorities. The proposed Advisory Committee would consist of a group of stakeholders including representatives of the Polis and Neo Chorio municipalities, the main economic sectors (i.e. tourism/leisure and fisheries), other organisations involved in the protection of the environment and landowners. They would be involved in the review of the MPA management plan and actions, and take part in discussions on conservation and development issues in the area. Stakeholder engagement in the management of the MPA is expected to increase the effectiveness of the MPA in safeguarding the marine environment while taking into account the development of sustainable socio-economic activities.

The government announced that a new legislative framework for the management of MPA in Cyprus is under creation. It is not clear yet if the governance and partnership framework proposed will be used.

Governance and partnership proposal of co-management for Kakoskali MPA
Governance and partnership proposal of co-management for Kakoskali MPA

Communication to a wider audience

A wider stakeholder forum was organised on 24 October 2019, with all interested fishers and governmental representatives, to present the Kakoskali MPA, the unique habitats it encompasses, the existing pressures that threaten its marine biodiversity, the final Ministerial Decree, MPA zones and fishing restrictions imposed in each zone. The leaflet “Kakoskali Marine Protected Area” describing the history, characteristic habitats and pressures, and new boundaries of the Kakoskali Marine Protected Area was distributed within the local community during the forum (available in Greek and English).

During the forum, stakeholders shared their views on legal, effectiveness and feasibility aspects of controlling the MPA. The idea of creating a “ranger type” body for control was raised. Following the Kakoskali MPA creation, fishers expect more clarity on the rights of commercial (e.g. trawl fishing) and non-commercial (e.g. sport fishing) activities. In particular, they wish to exclude trawlers from the entire Chrysohou Bay area.

Recommendations

Conflict resolution methods were used to promote and facilitate dialogue and understanding between the different stakeholders. When different parties did not agree, negotiations with fishers and governmental authorities took place in small group meetings, sometimes one-to-one meetings. The results of the negotiations were then being presented in larger groups.

The project highlighted the importance of community support to effectively manage an MPA, using the following arguments:

  • Local stakeholders are in the position to provide information about the resources of the area and the evolution of their exploitation;
  • The local community can provide assistance in the identification and implementation of management actions;
  • The restrictive measures will be better respected if stakeholders understand the benefits of the MPA and take part in its management (sense of ownership).

What’s next?

The signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between Enalia Physis Environmental Research Centre and the DFMR will be proposed to the Government so as to give the research centre some credibility to engage in various activities and focus groups together with or on behalf of the MPA management authority.

To promote the valorisation of marine habitats and the development of marine biology research in Cyprian MPAs, Enalia Physis Environmental Research Centre and the government have discussed several ideas such as the creation of an underwater museum, a marine station and a training camp for marine biology students.

Communication about the newly created Marine Protected Area is expected to continue over the coming months, targeting the general public (locals and visitors/tourists) and involving the municipal authorities.

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