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TITLE:
GCP/RER/010/ITA/MSM-13 (MedSudMed Technical Documents n°13)
Pilot Study: Spatial distribution of demersal fishery resources, environmental factors and fishing activities in GSA 15 (Malta Island)


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 Authors:  Camilleri, M. - Dimech, M. - Drago, A. - Fiorentino, F. - Fortibuoni, T. - Garofalo, G. - Gristina, M. - Schembri, P.J. - Massa, F. - Coppola, S. - Bahri, T. - Giacalone, V.
 Pages:  97

Publication year:

 2008  
 Keywords: Demersal fisheries - ecosystems - ecosystem approach to fisheries - environmental factors - fisheries - fishery resources - mapping - species diversity - water circulation
ABSTRACT:

The FAO–MedSudMed Regional Project has promoted research on the improvement of knowledge on fishery ecosystems, with a view to the sustainable management of living marine resources in the central Mediterranean (Straits of Sicily). A pilot study focused on the waters around the Maltese Islands (GSA 15), with the aim of providing a comprehensive overview of the spatial distribution of the different life stages of exploitable demersal fishes in relation to the type and distribution of fishing, as well as to the oceanographic factors characteristic of the area of study. Critical zones for their role in the ecology of the main demersal fishery target species were investigated using species abundance data disaggregated by life stage. Spatial analysis and the application of GIS techniques allowed the identification of preferred habitats (e.g. nursery, feeding and spawning areas) for Merluccius merluccius, Mullus barbatus, Parapenaeus longirostris, Raja clavata and Raja miraletus. The impact of fishing on these species was assessed, particularly in terms of fish assemblages. The transport paths of early life stages were also hypothesized on the basis of oceanographic factors typical of the area. The results revealed that the spatial distribution of the main fishery resources overlaps the limits of the current GSAs. The analysis of oceanographic factors showed that some fishery resources are sustained by young individuals transported from adjacent GSAs. The results also demonstrated that the spatial distribution of the main demersal fishery resources in the Mediterranean GSA 15 straddle other GSAs, in particular as concerns nursery and spawning areas, indicating that some fishery resources are shared. This implies that harmonized fishery management should be applied over a larger area than is implied by the GSA concept. Finally, the study showed how data provided by different methods could be integrated to enhance the available scientific information in a data-limited situation.

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