Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations

MedSudMed's Expert Consultation on Marine Protected Areas and fishery management
(14-16 April 2003, Salammbô - Tunisia)

Objectives of the Expert Consultation
Focus and addressed issue
Expected output


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 Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) and Fisheries Management in the Central Mediterranean. This area includes almost all the typical Mediterranean coastal and pelagic habitats, with the peculiarity that in some areas they are overexploited and in some others they are almost still intact, and can be considered as MPAs. The availability of several habitats under a different stage of protection, and the opportunity of creating new ad hoc MPAs in the region can allow the testing of a series of hypotheses on the role of the MPAs, in particular on their potential role in (i) the recovery of depleted stocks; (ii) the prevention of recruitment overfishing, and (iii) the spillover of fish to adjacent fished areas. An Expert Consultation was organized on this issue, giving priority to the exchange of experiences regarding MPAs with particular attention to the areas in which fishing activities occur and are managed. This would allow, when the case arises, to foresee a possible methodology prior to the closure of fishing, once qualitative and quantitative effects were estimated.

Obiective of the Expert Consultation


The EC explored facets dealing with Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) in the Southern part of the Central Mediterranean, in attempting to have a synthesis of existing knowledge and activities dealing with MPAs and an overview of the types of studies. The National contributions were requested to describe studies and/or measures that have been conducted / applied to date, or any project on (possible) future protected areas. The presentation of existing key studies was also expected to give an overview of the effects of fishing ban on fish size, biomass and spatial distribution.

In prevision of comparative studies that can possibly be conducted, the presentation of all available information was considered as a must for future activities (research, training, or management). This would enable listing the gaps in the knowledge and methodologies, and draw-up consequent working and training programs agreed upon by all participating countries.

Focus and addressed issue


The focus of the Expert Consultation was on MPAs and Fisheries Management, e.g. any marine area that is under any kind of protection. Experience on Marine Reserves / National Parks oriented towards biodiversity conservation was also presented. Moreover, ongoing projects were presented, as well as biological, ecological and socio-economical issues. Types of studies and topics that could be addressed were:

-     Key studies: studies conducted on a zone closed to fishing, and where ecological effects have been observed and quantified. Indirect descriptions, such as economic effects of the closure could also be presented.

-     Feasibility studies: in highly depleted zones, where the closure has been envisaged as a possible solution for stock enhancement.

-    Problems affecting fisheries resources that can possibly be resolved by the creation of an MPA (Over-fishing, Illegal coastal fishing, …).

-     Artificial reefs  as a tool to prevent illegal fishing in protected areas.

-   Sensitive habitats that deserve appropriate protection, because of their importance in fisheries ecology (reproduction, spawning, feeding zones, …).

-   Abiotic environment: physico-chemical parameters  as elements conditioning plankton productivity and the trophic chain.

-    Socio-economical and cultural issues that show the effect of the fishing closure / protection, or effect of over-fishing on socio-economical and cultural features of an area.

-    Legal aspects: existing laws and control procedures, respect/non respect of national regulations, in order to foresee the existing controlling procedure in case of fishing closure.

Expected output


  •  Synthesis of the knowledge on Marine Protected Areas and related fisheries management aspects in the MedSudMed study area, both on already protected zones and zones that can possibly be protected in a next future;

  • Identification of gaps, in particular regarding the effect of fishing closure, the missing elements necessary to feasibility studies;

  • Methodology to fill the gaps more particularly regarding feasibility studies, and/or research activities to be conducted to improve knowledge on the effect of fishing closure on fish size, and biomass.

  • Pilot study cases that can be conducted. Advantage will be taken of outputs produced by previous studies on similar topics.

  • Overview of the regional and national expertise

  • Identification of training needs / possibilities

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

Discussions held during this Expert Consultation should not overlap with previous ones, in particular dealing with conservation. Presentations and discussions should be focused on fisheries and fisheries management. Therefore, it is important that Marine Protected Areas should be considered in a management perspective, and that all outputs be focused on this issue.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 and French.

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