MedPAN, in collaboration with the Gulf of Lion Marine Natural Park and Cerbère-Banyuls Marine Natural Reserve, organised an exchange visit on the theme of no-take zones in the Mediterranean Marine Protected Areas. This 3-day visit took place at the Banyuls-sur-mer Océanologique Observatory from 24 to 26 April 2019.

About 40 participants from 11 Mediterranean countries (Albania, Algeria, France, Israel, Lebanon, Libya, Monaco, Slovenia, Spain, Tunisia, Turkey, United Kingdom) came for these 3 days of exchange. MPA managers were present, but also scientists and donors.

2019 exchange visit no-take zones

The Cerbère-Banyuls Nature Reserve was chosen to host this exchange visit because of the effective management of its enhanced protection zone. After 40 years of sanctification and active management, this area is now home to a remarkable biodiversity that also enriches the surrounding areas and whose economic benefits radiate throughout the entire territory.

“The Cerbère-Banyuls Marine Nature Reserve is one of the oldest in the Mediterranean. The protection efforts implemented by the Department of Pyrénées-Orientales, its manager, have borne fruit. For example, grouper populations have increased from about ten individuals in 1980 to 608 in 2017,” said Mr Frédéric Cadène, Curator of the reserve. He adds: “Like the Gulf of Lions Marine Natural Park, we have also been an active member of the MedPAN network for many years. Implementing appropriate management measures to ensure that Marine Protected Areas are effective is a key issue. »

These strong protection zones are key for other Marine Protected Areas as well. The Gulf of Lion Marine Natural Park is currently considering, in consultation with stakeholders, the establishment of such areas.

“The Gulf of Lion Marine Natural Park, with its management council, is beginning a process to create enhanced protection zones within its territory. This will be done in consultation with all the stakeholders in the territory so that the protection of the marine environment is strengthened and activities – such as fishing, scuba diving or even boating – can be developed in a sustainable way. This objective is included in the management plan and its implementation began in December 2018 with a scientific seminar aimed at taking stock of knowledge about the Park.” said Mr Hervé Magnin, Director of the Gulf of Lion Marine Natural Park.

The exchanges were structured around the process of establishing no-take zones. They were enriched by the sharing of case studies in each country represented. Here are the presentations that were made during the 2.5 days of exchange:

Introduction MedPAN
Introduction Cerbère-Banyuls Marine Nature Reserve,
Introduction Gulf of Lions Marine Natural Park,
Introduction Joachim Claudet – Classification of MPAs based on regulations

  1. Identification and evaluation,
    1. Cap de Creus natural park,
    1. Mediterranean Conservation Society,
    1. Strunjan Landscape Park
  2. management planning,
    1. Columbretes Marine Reserve
  3. designation,
    1. Regional Albanian Park Authority,
    1. Taza national Park
  4. regulatory enforcement,
    1. Israeli National Park Authority
    1. Maghreb platform for artisanal fishing
  5. monitoring and management effectiveness
    1. Cerbère-Banyuls Marine Nature Reserve,
    1. Monitoring Antonio Di Franco,

As stressed at the meeting, no-take zones designed in a concerted approach, monitored and controlled, and considering the different uses in order to be consistent with the regulations and the overall zoning plan of the MPA, constitute an effective management tool for biodiversity conservation and the recovery of fish stocks.

In the Mediterranean today, out of 7.14% of the area covered by MPAs or other effective conservation measures, only 0.04%[1] are strong protection zones where fishing, access or taking is prohibited. And not all of these 0.04% are effectively managed.

In 2016, the Mediterranean MPA community committed itself in the Tangier Declaration[ to increase the percentage of strong protection areas to 2% and to ensure that all these areas are well managed in order to achieve the expected results.

The MedPAN network is strongly committed to supporting MPAs and local fishing communities that wish to create or expand highly effective and well-managed strong protection zones. Following the discussions in Banyuls, MedPAN will soon share a strategy supported by practical recommendations, as well as the communication and advocacy tools that MedPAN will develop and make available to MPA managers to support them in this process.

Also read the article “Spotlight on strong protection zones in Marine Protected Areas”.

[1]) MAPAMED, the database on Sites of interest for the conservation of marine environment in the Mediterranean Sea. MedPAN, UNEP/MAP/SPA-RAC. November 2017 release.