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Regional Policy: Making fishers the protectors of the Mediterranean Sea’s marine environment – Regional Policy

Regional Policy: Making fishers the protectors of the Mediterranean Sea’s marine environment – Regional Policy

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The Interreg Mediterranean transnational programming supports the development a participative approach between fishermen and Marine Protected Areas.

Overfishing and extinction are common in the Mediterranean Sea. This is not only an ecological problem but it will also endanger traditional small-scale fishing communities over the long term. Although marine protected areas (MPAs), have been established throughout the Mediterranean to safeguard endangered species, they often face backlash from local fisheries because they reduce their potential fishing grounds. 

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FishMPABlue 2This project aims to end this conflict by involving local stakeholders and fisheries in the management of MPAs. Concerns were raised by fishers who could lose a portion of their income as the project’s ambition is to reduce fishing. This initial hesitation was overcome by the creation of local government clusters between MPAs, fisheries, and local stakeholders. This was the first time that many fishers were involved in the governance and management of their fishing grounds. 

The actions taken range from the introduction and active monitoring of MPAs by local fishers to the introduction of selective fishing gear. As a result of the 11 pilot actions, the project brought about the desired change. The MPAs have seen their fishing grounds recover and their environmental quality improve. Fishers are also more open to the idea of participatory governance. 

It only makes sense to continue the project after such a positive outcome. Interreg Mediterranean supports FishMPABlue2+ PLUS since June 2021. This project will expand the approach to an additional 11 MPAs, bringing it up to 30 total pilot actions. This example shows how cooperation between Mediterranean coastal regions can help achieve the goal for a sustainable Mediterranean Sea.

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