MBPC through Plan Bleu hosted the second capitalisation webinar focusing on sustainable aquaculture. This webinar was co-organised by two Horizontal projects of the Interreg Med Programme: the Blue Growth Community and the Mediterranean Biodiversity Protection Community, where Plan Bleu is the Capitalisation lead partner. This webinar allowed Pierre-Yves Hardy, Project Manager at WWF France, to present and capitalise the recommendations of the Interreg MED’s Biodiversity Protection Community PHAROS4MPA project.
Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) currently cover around 10% of Mediterranean waters, which is projected to increase to 30% in the future. However, most of these MPAs are multi-use and poorly protected, and their biodiversity is most often detrimentally affected by the impacts of aquaculture. Different types of productions generate different levels of pressure on biodiversity within MPAs. While the ecological impacts of shellfish farming are relatively limited, fish farming can have more serious higher impacts, notably due to the introduction and escape of non-indigenous species, excessive intake of nutrients in the food web and effluent discharges.
To better understand how aquaculture can function more sustainably within MPAs, PHAROS4MPA conducted an extensive literature review of the topic engaged in dialogue with the aquaculture industry, MPA authorities and scientists in collaboration with partners in 7 Mediterranean countries.
The main recommendations of PHAROS4MPA are that only aquaculture farms with no negative effects on designated protected areas should be allowed within MPAs, and that this should be decided on a case-by-case basis. Indeed, fish farms with sea net pens settlements in areas that count significant grass meadows and coralligenous formations and/or important fish habitats, spawning ground and nursery areas should not be allowed. More generally, habitats that are sensitive to the discharge of organic matter should not be considered appropriate for fish or shellfish aquaculture, nor should they be used for industrial intensive fish production or the farming of exotic species. Indeed, all such impacts should be actively mitigated in a context-specific manner and backed by a solid understanding of the site’s carrying capacity. To this end, authorities and operators need to collaborate more closely and have improved access to spatial and scientific data.
To find out more, you can read the PHAROS4MPA “Safeguarding Marine Protected Areas in the growing Mediterranean Blue Economy: Recommendations for Aquaculture” report. Finally, you can find more information on Plan Bleu’s webinars on sustainable aquaculture here.