Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations

MedSudMed's Expert Consultation Spatial distribution of demersal resources in the Strait of Sicily and the influence of environmental factors and fishery characteristics
(10-12 December 2002, Malta)

Objectives of the Expert Consultation
Focus and addressed issue
Expected output


Report of the expert consultation - MSM TD 2        (6.89 MB)


During the 1st meeting of the MedSudMed Coordination Committee, a general outline of research and the activities to be implemented by the Project have been discussed. One of the research proposal focuses on the study of Spatial distribution of demersal resources in relation with environmental parameters and fishery characteristics. The main objective was to identify the spatial distribution of different life stages of commercial fishes (recruits, adults and any significant age group). This would provide basic information dealing with the recognition and delineation of different stocks in the Central Mediterranean, as preliminary for an effective stock assessment and management in the area. The research tasks have been divided as follows and designed to study respectively:

  1. The main physical features of the area (bathymetry, sedimentology and hydrology).

  2. The main benthic biocenosis and demersal fish assemblages.

  3. The fishing pressure on demersal resources in the area.

  4. The spatial distribution of juvenile and adult of target demersal species.

  5. The combination of all previous tasks using a GIS in order to give an overall view of the possible interactions between spatial distribution of the demersal resources and environment and the fishery features.

It was decided to organize an Expert Consultation in order to provide an overview of available knowledge and data on this issue in the region.

Obiective of the Expert Consultation


The aims of the Expert Consultation were the definition of a work program for the activities to be implemented on the basis of common methodology and the proposition of pilot study cases. The expert consultation had also to identify needs in national and regional expertise and was the opportunity to define criteria for the data collection, and identify a task leader who will coordinate the activities that will be conducted as a follow-up of this meeting.

Focus and addressed issue


The focus of the Expert Consultation was on the description of the spatial distribution of demersal resources in the project area and the factors affecting/explaining this distribution (environmental parameters and fisheries characteristics), in particular of species considered as forming shared stocks and those supposed to belong to separate stocks. The themes that could be addressed regard:

  • description of physical environment of the region

  • available elements on distribution of fish species (single species or assemblages), localization of feeding / reproduction / spawning grounds - known ecology/biology of the main commercial species

  • possible migration patterns, and description of the types of migration

  • description of the fishery: seasonality, quantification and spatial distribution of the fishing effort, fishing techniques used in the region

  • available data that can be exploited for further results

  • any combination of the type of information cited above and giving an idea of the possible interactions between demersal resources and environmental parameters (biotic and abiotic)

  • relevant methodologies, equipment, techniques for the data collection or treatment regarding demersal resources, fisheries and/or environment

  • Geographical Information Systems.

Expected output


  • Synthesis of the knowledge on this issue at regional level.

  • Identification of gaps and listing of the lacking data, in order to assess the feasibility of possible research studies that can be conducted.

  • Methodology to fill the gaps: knowing that already existing information can be processed, by the way of technical working groups and/or contracted expert(s), data collection may be organized according to the on-going studies in the participating countries (type of sampling, calendars, comparative studies).

  • Data management needs in terms of contents, structures and relationships.

  • Definition of Pilot study cases.

  • Identification of needs in regional and national expertise.

  • Creation of a regional network of multidisciplinary experts, to be involved in the MedSudMed activities related to this expert Consultation.

The report of the Expert Consultation will be edited as Technical Document of MedSudMed Project and will be available as an information paper for the SAC and SAC sub-committees on Ecosystems and Marine Environment and Stock Assessment, as well as for other relevant regional meetings and bodies related to the addressed issue.



The Expert Consultation consisted of regional and extra-regional experts having broad discipline background. Discussions were conducted by Scientific Coordinator of the Project, Project staff and experts participating in the expert consultation. A chairman was nominated to synthesize the discussions, and to act as team leader for the activities to be conducted as a follow-up of the meeting. The Expert Consultation was conducted in English.

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