Final report - pdf 20.6 MB


MANTIS was a project commissioned by the DG MARE of the European Commission. It started in December 2015 and ended in April 2019. The main objectives of the project were i) to review and integrate the knowledge of previous national and EU project on the space-time dynamics of fisheries resources and on Ecosystem Approach to Fishery Management (EAFM) in the Central Mediterranean and ii) to investigate how a network of Marine Managed Areas (MMAs), in which fishing is restricted or forbidden permanently or for limited periods to one or more fishing gears, can contribute to improve sustainable fisheries in the Central Mediterranean focusing on two case studies, the Strait of Sicily and the Northern Adriatic. The MANTIS’ activities were organized into 6 Work Packages (WP). WP0 aimed at project activation and administrative and financial management. The activities included the meetings organization, the reporting and the liaison with the Commission. WP1 aimed at involving stakeholders in a participatory approach to identify possible technical/governance scenarios to be evaluated using numerical models for their possible effects on target stocks and fisheries in terms of MSY and EAFM targets. The main objective of WP2 was to provide a geo-referenced database including all the relevant data and information for modelling as well as outputs produced by modelling (FRAs and any other areas in which relevant fishing activities are restricted, maps of persistent nurseries and spawning grounds, maps on the seasonal distribution of the fleets and effort derived also from VMS and AIS, maps of protected and sensitive habitats, oceanographic models depicting the circulation patterns of the waters). Modelling the dynamics of target stocks in terms of abundance and yield, including connectivity between spawning and nursery areas (larval dispersal, bottom settlement, ontogenetic and spawning migrations) was developed in WP3. It aimed to simulate effects of different management scenarios, based on combinations of different networks of existing and new MMAs and variations in fishing effort (e.g. days at sea), on the population dynamics of the target species and fisheries when pursuing the target of MSY within the more general EAFM. To this end the behaviour and space-time dynamics of fleet were modelled. WP4 aimed at designing and assessing a management framework including the establishment, maintenance, monitoring and governance of the MMA network, also considering the involvement of the stakeholders (Fishers, NGOs, Public Administrations). Finally, WP5 disseminated results obtained and best practices experienced during the research activities. Analyses were carried out within two case studies, each consisting of four target species, representative of different biological life traits in the Strait of Sicily (Parapenaeus longirostris, Merluccius merluccius, Mullus barbatus and Aristaeomorpha foliacea) and the North and Central Adriatic (Solea solea, Merluccius merluccius, Mullus barbatus and Nephrops norvegicus).

The main fisheries stakeholders, including fishing associations, local and national authorities, research institutes and NGOs operating in the Adriatic Sea and the Strait of Sicily were involved in multi-stakeholder workshops. A relevant experience of participatory mapping of nursery and spawning areas of the project target species in the investigated region was conducted. Local and Traditional Ecological Knowledge collected from fishers on distribution of Essential Fish Habitats was integrated in the GRID/SEAGRID database developed in WP2. Management measures suggested by fishers and discussed with the other stakeholders were considered in simulation of the management measures. Concerning the Adriatic Sea, Croatian fishers agreed with the permanent ban in Jabuka Pit and suggested a permanent trawling ban in the Southern Adriatic at depths > 500 m in order to allow protection of hake adults. Conversely the Italian fishers did not agree with additional spatial management measures since many areas are used by oil industries and nursery grounds for fish target species (red mullet and sole) occur in the coastal lagoons and within 3 miles from coast, where trawling is already banned. Concerning the red mullet fisheries, Italian fishers proposed i) to extend the fishing ban within the 3 miles to small scale fisheries with fixed nets and recreational fisheries, ii) to increase the biological ban duration of two weeks, to allow red mullets to reach fishable size and to set a limit of fishing hours equal for all boats (both larger and smaller ones) for 10 weeks after the ban. Concerning the sole fishery the Italian fishers suggested to set a fixed common length of the bar in beam trawl to reduce the fishing effort and to increase tolerance for marketable fish size.

Concerning the Strait of Sicily, fishers from Porto Palo suggested a 2 months trawling ban followed by effort regulation with 2 fishing days per week, following the Adriatic example. Fishers from Sciacca instead disagreed with a permanent ban of the “Banco Avventura FRA” considering the high dependency of the fleet on this fishing area, and proposed a 2-months closure of the area. All fishers underlined the necessity to have subsidies during the trawl ban period.

The application of an updated version of the SMART model (Spatial Management of demersal Resources for Trawl fisheries) to the Strait of Sicily allowed exploring the possible consequences of fourteen management scenarios, including the status quo. The results indicate that: i) the biological effects (i.e. on the four modelled stocks) vary largely between the different scenarios. In particular, some spatial approaches such as the closure of the three established GFCM FRA, are likely to allow reaching the sustainability targets in terms of fishing mortality for three of the four stocks considered with exclusion of Hake, ii) an Extended Summer stop, that is the full temporal ban of trawling for 2 months followed by other two months of reduced activity, represents another potentially effective (but costly) approach, and iii) all the management scenarios are always associated, at least in their first phase of implementation, to a decrease of the profit for the fleet with respect to the status quo. The application of SMART to the Adriatic Sea allowed exploring the possible consequences of seven management scenarios, including the status quo. The results indicate that: i) a general reduction of fishing mortalities on resources is expected by all the management measures with the exception of the Pomo Pit and Sole’s Sanctuary closures for the red mullet and the Summer stop for the common sole, ii) the FRA for the Sole Sanctuary produce a light improving in the sole SSB , while the Jabuka/Pomo Pit FRA is likely to determine strong increase of SSB of the Norway lobster, iii) the most effective measure results the closure of a large coastal area within 6 nautical miles from the coast, although the economic effects of this approach could be very negative for the fleet, and iv) conversely to the case study of the Strait of Sicily, the Extended Summer stop scenario does not seem a promising approach in the Adriatic Sea.

As the governance system concerns, examples from Natura 2000 and other MPA networks were examined to describe the best practices in establishing and implementing MMAs. This analysis was aimed at providing operational elements for the definition of the most appropriate management framework in the two case study areas covered by the project. taking into account the opinion of stakeholders. The potential costs in the establishment, maintenance, monitoring and governance of a network of MMAs was also evaluated. The implementation of a MMAs network is expected to produce socio-economic effects deriving from changes in landings, prices and costs due to variation of fishing effort.

Concerning the monitoring system, the rationale for a sampling scheme for data collection was delineated considering a set of monitoring objectives and associated biological and socio-economic indicators. It includes consideration about the collection of data and information from already existing monitoring programs (e.g. EU Data Collection Framework, Marine Strategy Framework Directive). Finally, integration of the monitoring of MMAs within the more complex fisheries management plans in the two case study areas was analised. The importance to have a clear competent authority and powers to conduct Monitoring, Control and Surveillance (MCS) activities was underlined. An effective MCS should be characterised by transparency, accountability and an effective and deterrent monitoring and sanctioning system. Within this context the so called “responsive management” was proposed to be adopted in the case studies. Principles to inform a participatory approach to MCS of MMAs in the case study were also reviewed. The most relevant features of the participatory approach are to involve stakeholders: i) in collecting data including catch, fishing effort, discards, and socio-economic information; ii) in defining regulatory conditions under which the exploitation of the resources within the identified MMAs is conducted, including penalties for noncompliance, and iii) in surveillance promoting cooperation (e.g. sentinels) with the Coast Guard, whose task is to carry out controls on the area so that the measures provided for are respected. Enhanced public participation in the fisheries management process should allow: i) less costs for the development and implementation of MCS systems, and ii) more compliance from stakeholders and therefore, more possibilities to achieve the established management goal.

The project results are disseminated by workshops, media, congresses and peer-reviewed articles and this web page

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