MPAs are an asset for Pillar 3 of the Adriatic-Ionian strategy

AdriaPAN intervention to the “ADRIPLAN (ADRiatic Ionian maritime spatial PLANning) Transnational Conference”.
28th February 2014, Rijeka, Croatia.
Panel 4Fisheries, aquaculture and Marine Protected Areas

MPAs are an asset for Pillar 3 of the Adriatic-Ionian strategy: they could serve as reference point and control sites for marine biodiversity, but also as dissemination/awareness tool.

Having in mind the present situation of the marine environment, we have to ask for more MPAs in the adriatic-ionian sub-region. Its high diversity is spanning from the Jabuka pit to the wetlands in Albania and on the northern side, to the croatian and slovenian cliffs, to the sandy shorelines.

Thinking about the DIVERSITY we share within this stretch of sea, we have to consider the diverse richness of our sites: landscapes, languages, cultures, historical heritage, wine and food, and all of this in a space as little as the Adriatic-Ionian sub-region. Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) host biodiversity hotspots and are – most of the times – spawning grounds or nursery areas for fish populations, thus serving fish stock populations targetted by fishing industry. The majority of these areas host historical sites (i.e. Brijuni), or high quality agriculture (i.e. Torre Guaceto), fishing grounds (i.e. Torre del Cerrano), specialised aquaculture (i.e. Po river mouth), tourist attractions such as wine/food specialities or folkloristic events. Diversity is attractiveness.

As the financial resources to manage MPAs are scarse, more coordination is needed among ministries, E.U. institutions, donors. Ministry for environment at first, but also agriculture/fisheries, historical/archeological goods, tourism authorities. The environment protection can not be limited to the coastal area, but should include open sea – deepwater sites, fishing management zones, historical sites and food/wine attractions too, for a better efficiency of the scarse financial resources. The result would be the overall protection of our marine-coastal heritage – taking into consideration each one of its aspects – bringing it to be more attarctive. A model could be the one of the “Coastal action groups”, but tailored on a broader vision of environment and cultural conservation.

The network of MPAs represented by AdriaPAN – a regional branch of the wider MedPAN network – is presently facing several threats: climate change and alien species (for which detailled monitoring activity is more and more urgent) and local-scale human activities for which more control is needed. This second group encompasses marine litter and sewage treatment plants, industrial use of huge amounts of seawater as the one foreseen for LNG regasification plants, oil prospection activities using air-guns which are harmful for delicate species such as dolphins and monk seal.

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