During the lockdown, we circulated a small survey throughout the network to assess how network members were dealing with the impacts of the sanitary measures on the planning and management of their MPAs.
We warmly thank the 35 members or partners of the MedPAN network who sent us their responses. Coming from 13 Mediterranean countries, these responses illustrate many similarities when it comes to the impact of the lockdown on Mediterranean MPAs. The main results are detailed below.
As announced when the survey was published, the responses that agreed to do so were shared with other similar assessment initiatives being carried out in the Mediterranean and beyond. Please do not hesitate to contact the MedPAN Secretariat if you would like to obtain more details on this survey.
Are monitoring activities being affected in your MPA(s)?
In most MPAs, activities were limited, postponed or cancelled due to the lockdown and staff requested to work from home.
Are you conducting new monitoring studies during the lockdown considering the decrease/absence of human activities?
Only a few sites were able to set-up additional monitoring studies during the lockdown as most of the MPAs were either limiting staff allowed in the field or didn’t have the authorisation to carry out unplanned new activities
Is your MPA(s) still open to visitors?
Most of the MPA where closed following government instructions during the pandemic but in a few MPA access was allowed but restricted (in numbers of people allowed or areas accessible).
Are there negative economic effects of the lack of tourism in the community?
In most MPAs, local economy depends on tourism activities and thus suffered a lot with the closure of all hotels, restaurants, boat rentals, diving clubs, etc
Are there negative economic effects of reduced fishing?
Local fishers were affected by the absence of tourism activities. They generally reduced their activity and fish price dropped in many places.
Did it encourage the local community to buy more local products such as fish?
Direct sales to consumers on the pier were not always allowed because gatherings were forbidden during lockdown in many places
Are you preparing for the post-lockdown period?
MPA had to prepare for re-scheduled field-work and had to purchase necessary gear (masks, gloves etc). Some MPA had to recruit some locals and were preparing to adapt surveillance to the new situation and restrictions still in place: managing people on the beach, avoid overfishing and discussing with local fishermen, etc
Do you plan to entirely re-open your MPA(s) to the public?
Across the Mediterranean, decisions to re-open MPAs were driven by government restrictions (access to the coast and the beach, public health regulations, etc.)
Are there any protected species in your MPA(s) that may be directly affected by the end of the lockdown (for example nesting species)?
With the end of the lockdown, people will be coming back to the beach and the sea, which will increase noise, pollution and encounter level and may thus disturbed species that settled or used quieter areas during the lock down. MPA managers identified nesting species (birds & sea turtles) and monk seals as those that could be mostly affected by the end of the lockdown.