MPAs are no longer perceived as a static tool for conservation. Rather, they are powerful actors in the context of sustainable (economic) development thanks to their role to revert the declining trend of coastal fishery resources as well as to attract tourists. As a consequence, the number of studies dealing with the use and functioning of MPAs fisheries management tools has increased. Yet, knowledge is still inadequate. Most published information on the functioning of MPAs deals with theoretical models only. Very few report empirical data demonstrating the actual effects of the MPAs (e.g. regarding spill-over effects and connectivity) and/or corroborating the models. Management requires a solid MPA effectiveness assessment, by verifying for differences between protected and control sites, spillover effects and effects on local fisheries. The WP will develop and validate monitoring plans that can effectively assess the impact of both use and conservation actions to move from theory to practice, and provide management tools. To gain this point the ESR/ER will interact with stakeholders and develop sustainable measures for fishermen practices. 


  1. Key-elements central to the assessment and management of local fisheries and trophic relationships in Mediterranean MPAs are identified; 

  2. Standardised monitoring tools for local fisheries and trophic relationships that can apply to a wide array of Mediterranean MPAs are formalised; 

  3. Baseline regarding trophic relationships and local fisheries in the areas where the MPAs of the network are located is produced and available; 

  4. Standardised management tools for local fisheries and trophic relationships that can apply to a wide array of Mediterranean MPAs are formalised.



WP 2.1 - Trophic relationships in Marine Protected Areas

Supervisor: Dr. Patrice Francour (UNS, France)


Objectives. The objectives of this research is to better understand the trophic relationships and the energy flows in coastal rocky ecosystems, in order to feed some models (ECOPATH, ECOTROPH) that allow simulations of variations in the trophic nets. Such simulations are particularly important for management because they allow quantifying the consequences of some human impacts (for instance overfishing) that can modify the trophic nets with important indirect effects called the trophic cascades. 


Methods. First of all, all the available data in the literature will be collected, paying attention to collect also all the available grey literature. Then, the student will proceed following a heuristic approach, assessing a list of data necessary to be collected for running the models, planning the best experimental protocol to collect them and then analysing the samples (study of gut contents). Then the models ECOTROPH and ECOPATH will be run for the simulation of scenarios of different kind and levels of overfishing. As the oldest Marine Protected Areas experience increases of top-predator abundances, these models will help simulation of the ecological consequences of such a recovery. In order to generalize the results, at least 2-3 MPAs (in function of the results of the bibliographic study) will be selected for the collection of the missing data on trophic relationships.

MMMPA - Training Network for Monitoring Mediterranean Marine Protected Areas has received funding from the European Community's Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007-2013) under Grant Agreement no.: 290056.

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