European Commission logo
English English
CORDIS - EU research results
Content archived on 2024-05-29

European Marine Protected Areas as tools for FISHeries management and conservation

Final Report Summary - EMPAFISH (European marine protected areas as tools for fisheries management and conservation)

The EMPAFISH project aimed to assist the European Union in the process of evaluating, ameliorating and implementing the use of marine protected areas (MPAs) as tools for the conservation of marine resources and the protection of marine biodiversity. The general objectives of EMPAFISH were to:

1. investigate the potential of different regimes of MPAs in Europe as measures to protect sensitive and endangered species, habitats and ecosystems from fishing effects
2. develop quantitative methods to assess the effects of MPAs
3. provide the European Community with a set of integrated measures and policy proposals for the implementation of MPAs as ecosystem and fisheries' management tools.

EMPAFISH was organised in seven distinct, yet interrelated, work packages (WPs) that undertook various activities. A network was launched at two levels, i.e. restricted among participants and including stakeholders. For its development internet resources and meetings at different stages were used. A steering and an editorial committee were also organised. Data from literature and selected case study areas were utilised to list, explore and evaluate the ecological effects of MPAs. Furthermore, fishery regimes were analysed to characterise the effects of marine conservation on the sector.

In addition, the socioeconomic impact of human activities representing major uses of the ecosystem services that were provided by MPAs in southern Europe were investigated. Studies evaluating all aspects relating to the effectiveness of MPAs were reviewed, in order to describe how they were conducted and detect fields in which research was lacking. A similar review was performed for MPA models, resulting in the development of an original simulation model called 'bio-economic analysis of marine protected areas' (BEAMPA).

Guidelines and models regarding the use of MPAs as tools for fisheries management and conservation were produced, based on the outcomes of the WPs, and disseminated at various levels. Dissemination pathways included the project website, booklets and newsletters, meetings and journal publications. Finally, a European Symposium on MPAs was co-organised in Spain by the EMPAFISH and PROTECT projects to highlight, integrate and communicate both projects' findings.

The progress that was attained was significant. EMPAFISH firstly allowed for the selection and validation of appropriate tools to evaluate MPAs' performance under different management regimes. Secondly, eco-modelling tools were applied and enhanced, facilitating their usefulness and applicability for management purposes. Thirdly, guidelines for the definition of objectives, design, location, management and monitoring of European MPAs were developed, based on a multidisciplinary scheme that utilised the optimal available empirical information. Finally, the incorporation of stakeholders within the management of coastal zones was facilitated.