Fishers and MPAs working together | WWF

Fishers and MPAs working together

Interviews with fishers

Meeting with small scale fishers, Strunjan (Slovenia).
© A. Di Franco / FishMPABlue2
Interview with Nevijo Vižintin, fisher from Strunjan Landscape Park, Slovenia

Fishers are key for the sustainable management of fish stocks and ecosystems in MPAs. How do you work with the MPA? 
We have really good cooperation and I believe it will be the same in the future. We have already participated in two projects on monitoring towards improving traditional coastal fisheries.

What do you hope to achieve by working with the MPA? What is your dream? 
My goal is to lay the foundation for further cooperation on similar projects. We need to get better conditions for professional fishers, while fish should be protected from illegal fishing in the future. It would be great to have a fish reserve established to allow the occasional catch of transit fish with a harmless method. If we were permitted to catch seabream (Sparus aurata) with a bigger mesh in the near future, it would stop the fish eating almost all young mussels, as was the case this year.

How do you think fishers and MPA managers can change the fate of the Mediterranean Sea?
Fishing gear should be limited to a mesh size of 45mm (diagonal 90mm). Together we could carry out a better control of the size of the fish. We could define the legal basis for the obligatory usage of harmless techniques in all Mediterranean countries. If all the countries agreed on that, with those measures the fish population would be maintained and the number of fish would increase. On the other hand, fishers would catch bigger fish with less effort and they would earn more. We should also prohibit fishing for people who are not professional fishers. Licences should be issued only to fishers who make their living exclusively from the sea, because the existing law allows non-professionals to fish with nets. This way the conditions of professional fishers would be improved and the cultural heritage of fisheries would be preserved in the future.
© P. Krstinic / FishMPABlue2

"My family has been  fishing for over 750 years, and that was the very first time that anyone has asked our opinion. I even had a chance to say what I think about fishing!"

Interview with Sebastijan Raljević, fisher from Telašćica Nature Park, Croatia

How do you work with the MPA?
Before the FishMPABlue2 project we were barely involved in the MPA, a meeting here and there, not many outputs. Since the project started cooperation has intensified. We have regular meetings, we are implementing measures together, putting together the management plan.

How can fishers and MPAs change the fate of the Mediterranean Sea?
To have an effect on the whole Med, we either need more MPAs or better governance of fisheries outside MPAs. What can be used in the Med are the experiences and good practice examples from the MPAs. Achieving the good governance of fisheries in Mediterranean MPAs would already be a great achievement.

In 2018 you participated in a High-Level Conference in Malta where a detailed Plan of Action for small-scale fisheries and the marine environment in the Mediterranean was launched. How did you feel?
I felt amazing. For the first time I had the opportunity to approve something! My family has been fishing for over 750 years, and that was the very first time that anyone has asked our opinion. I even had a chance to say what I think about fishing!

Reflections from project partners

kate Hogg
© FishMPABlue2
What is really fantastic about the FishMPABlue initiative is that it emphasises the human dimension of natural resource management, which has historically been ignored. It recognises the need to stop, listen to and engage the fishers who have a wealth of knowledge and a true vested interest in the sea  – the sea's resources are what they rely upon directly for their economic survival.

The two phases of the FishMPABlue project have made a great contribution  – making us take stock and focus on how best we can manage our resources in the Mediterranean. We are well aware that the Mediterranean is threatened by cumulative impacts. Hard work is needed to reverse many of the negative trends that have built up due to past failures of management policies and strategies.
Although not everything in FishMPABlue2 is a new concept or idea, the crucial difference made by this initiative lies in its final outcome – a "governance toolkit" that is the product of testing different interventions in 11 MPAs throughout the Mediterranean. The tools that have been tested both engage stakeholders to find the most effective ways to generate the much needed support for MPAs and marine conservation, and help MPA managers to find innovative and feasible ways to make up for staff and financial shortfalls.Where management responsibility is equitably shared and fully developed we have true co-management. By involving communities and gaining their support we can be sure that we will succeed in conserving the Mediterranean. We all know and believe 'Together is possible', and FishMPABlue takes us one step closer to a brighter tomorrow.
© FishMPABlue2
"Managers of MPAs are the key decision makers, so giving resposibility to other stakeholders – in particular  fishers – is not immediately evident. This project is proving to them that sharing decision making with local stakeholders can be a benefit for the MPA’s conservation goals too."
Interview with Luca Santarossa, FishMPABlue2 Project Manager from Federparchi-Europarc Italy

What do you see as the biggest achievement of the FishMPABlue2 project so far?
There are several different answers. One is certainly the improvement of the capacities of MPA managers in managing small-scale fisheries, thanks to the “SSF Governance toolkit” we developed and tested. But the main long-term benefit of the project is to support the MPAs in their ongoing initiatives to establish stable partnerships with fishers for a win-win result.

Are there many success stories already?
Telašćica in Croatia is one of the best pilot sites. They have already started to design a small-scale fisheries management plan and have addressed many aspects of the toolkit. There is another successful story from the Egadi Islands, in Italy, where fishers and MPA managers developed a “Code of conduct” for a more sustainable fishery, and several fishers have adopted it on a voluntary basis. In all 11 pilot MPAs we have successful stories, but overall, after two years of effort, understanding of the need to work together has improved so much.

Working with MPA managers

Milena Ramov, Telašćica nature park manager, Croatia
© FishMPABlue2
Fishers are key for the sustainable management of fish stocks and ecosystems in MPAs. How do you work together in Telašćica?
On an island with just over 1000 people, daily communication with fishers is an integral part of life, a tradition. Conservation services worked with fishers to come up with solutions together to preserve fish stocks in the park. At first, it seemed nearly impossible, but thanks to some good meetings and the involvement of fishers in fish stock monitoring and zoning of the marine area, they finally acknowledged the importance of no-take zones – areas where fishing is not allowed so that fish can grow and breed undisturbed.

What do you hope to have achieved at the end of the project? What is your dream?
I hope that at the end of the project mutual trust between the marine protected area management team and small-scale fishers will be established – to work towards the same goal, which is sustainable fishing in Telašćica.
We hope that local fishers will be interested in participating more in fisheries management in Telašćica. We also hope that the governance toolkit for small-scale fishers that we will generate will be used throughout the Mediterranean and not only in the MPAs included in the project.

How do you think you can bring about a positive change?
Fishers' hands on experience of the sea and fishing, combined with scientific knowledge and a good legal framework is fundamental for the fate of the Mediterranean Sea. Only by working together can we make the right decisions and see positive results.

MPA managers and fishers are key players for fisheries management and fish stock conservation – MPAs can be seen as spatially restricted ‘laboratories’ for fisheries and fish stock management. The knowledge gained can be used in fisheries management at a larger scale.

The National Marine Park of Zakynthos is predominantly known as one of the most important nesting areas for the loggerhead sea turtle Caretta caretta in the Mediterranean, but it is also home to several endangered, rare and emblematic fish species including rays, groupers, brown meagre. Artisanal fishery is a traditional activity that supports the well being of local society. We have adopted an ecosystem-based approach to manage fish fauna along with other species and habitats while ensuring the sustainability of the fishing sector itself.

Fishers are key for the sustainable management of fish stocks and ecosystems in MPAs. How do you work together?
We have chosen an interactive and cooperative approach. The management agency of the MPA brings together the fishers' union, the port police authority and the local fisheries department as part of a management committee. Although it requires a big investment of time and effort, it has proven to be a straightforward and effective way of working together so far.