In recent years, 22% of Greek waters have been declared Natura 2000 sites. Some maritime activities, such as aquaculture, are operating in those protected areas. How can we mitigate their impacts? And what should be the “best” sustainable framework regarding these increasing overlaps?

This is the type of questions the 18 partners of the Pharos4MPAs project are trying to answer.

Last week, they were in Chios, Greece, for their second face-to-face Steering Committee meeting which was an opportunity to:

  • Introduce each sector’s capitalization baselines and progress of recommendations (aquaculture, Maritime transport, recreational fishing…)
  • Approve the communications plan and stakeholder engagement plan
  • Visit the fish farms of Nireus, one of the biggest producers of seabass and seabream in the Mediterranean (32,000 tonnes/year) to produce feasible recommendations
  • Meet with the main stakeholders of the aquaculture sector in Greece to gather their “in-the-field” input and comments on the project – Greece is a significant world producer with yearly production of 110,000 tonnes of fish

Background on the Pahros4MPAs project:

Thinking beyond MPA borders

The current “blue growth” trend in the Mediterranean Sea is accelerating at an unsustainable pace. There is an urgent need for integrated ocean management throughout the whole basin. Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) safeguard marine ecosystems, processes, habitats and species. They also contribute to the restoration and replenishment of resources for social, economic, and cultural enrichment. Many economic sectors have traditionally functioned within or near protected areas.

The current EU Blue Growth strategy means that MPAs face increased requests for economic development within their limits, with greater pressure and impact on the marine environment. Mediterranean Maritime Spatial Planning Authorities will have to take MPAs into account, as foreseen by the commitments stemming from the Convention on Biological Diversity and the Habitats Directive, if they want to progress towards a Good Ecological Status for the Mediterranean Sea.

There is a wealth of published results and recommendations regarding MPAs and their interaction with economic sectors, yet an integrated approach for the Mediterranean is lacking. The PHAROS4MPAs project seeks to capitalise on existing results and ultimately deliver an integrated framework for recommendations on collaboration between Mediterranean MPAs and major maritime sectors. The final recommendations are to be issued in Spring 2019