Fisheries Governance in the Marine Protected Areas: Potential for the Blue Economy


Mediterranean Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) have multiplied in recent years, with a significant influence on local socio-economies, and artisanal fisheries. The benefits of MPAs for local fisheries become evident with an increase of catches over time, thus of profits for fishermen. In the short term however, their creation is often subject to strong opposition from local fishermen, who perceive MPAs as limiting their activities (e.g. due to the loss of available fishing grounds) and incomes. The FishMPABlue project addresses and proposes solutions to existing and potential conflicts. It involves key actors in the planning of conservation measures and fishery regulation processes in a context of sustainable governance involved in Blue Economy. FishMPABlue intends to start from few successful experiences of co-management between MPAs and fishermen, and develop new means of suports for artisanal fishery, within and around MPAs.


  • MPAs should have a management plan and actual resources for implementing it (esp. surveillance for limiting illegal activities, and monitoring to develop an adaptive co-management)
  • MPAs should engage small scale fishermen in fishing ruling and management, so to obtain their cooperation in assuring rules application
  • Local fishermen should be represented by a unique body, to be engaged since the beginning in the drafting of fishery regulation
  • New legal tools should be developed to allow formal power sharing between MPA managing bodies and stakeholders (i.e. co-management)


  • QUALITATIVE STUDY ON EXISTING CONFLICTS, IMPACTS, SYNERGIES, ETC. AND IDENTIFICATION OF BEST PRACTICES AT MEDITERRANEAN LEVEL 31 MPAs (from 5 countries: Spain, France, Italy, Greece, Croatia), having a management body formally established, were the case studies. A questionnaire and literature analysis were the data sources for identifying the Best Practices (BP), carrying out a Stakeholder and a SWOT analyses. The results show that there are few key attributes for defining a BP: MPA enforcement, fishermen engagement, incentives for sustainable fishing, management plan. Among stakeholders, besides the obvious ones (e.g. fishermen) some others (diving centers, restaurants) play an important role. The SWOT confirmed that besides the numerous strengths, the main weaknesses are the low level of stakeholders’ engagement in MPA management, while opportunities show a high potential for sustainable fishery and Blue Economy.
  • IDENTIFICATION OF ALL THE POTENTIAL BLUE ECONOMY-RELATED SECTORS LINKED TO FISHING ACTIVITIES IN MEDITERRANEAN MPAS The possibilities for Blue Economy related to small scale fisheries are numerous: from a “value-chain” approach (“zero Km” restaurants, transformation factories, promo-trading management, branding, etc.) to the certification of the quality of halieutic resources (especially for under-estimated commercial species). Of course, there is a need of public incentives measures (e.g. training, equipment renovation, preferential access to fish resources, etc.) and promotion/communication of a multi-purpose fishery SMEs (pescaturismo, handicraft, ittiturismo, cooking, etc.). Finally, networking with other MPAs on tourism, fish commercialization, fund raising, etc. can be very effective.
  • MODEL OF FISHING GOVERNANCE (BY MPA MANAGERS AND NATIONAL RELEVANT INSTITUTIONS) MATCHING CONSERVATION GOALS AND SUPPORTS/ENHANCES THE LOCAL ECONOMY There is a wide range of different models, from the formal centralized system (as an MPA managed by a Ministry) to voluntary initiatives for marine environment conservation by fishermen cooperatives/associations. FishMPABlue is finalizing a "Toolkit for planning and managing sustainable small scale fishery in and around MPAs", i.e. a set of feasible actions/measures in order to have a satisfactory level of conservation through an actual involvement of main stakeholders (primarily artisanal fishermen) in the governance system
  • IDENTIFICATION OF THE MAIN STAKEHOLDERS AND POTENTIAL PARTNERS FOR A PROJECT WHICH TEST SUCH A MODEL IN PILOT MPAS MPA managing authorities, local small scale fishermen, as well as competent ministries and other public institutions (e.g. Port Authorities) will be involved in the new project's activities. Potential partners are the FishMPABlue ones plus those of the Advisory Panel members who showed a great interest towards the next stage of our strategy.


  • The performance of scientifically sound studies of ecological, economic and social aspects related to small scale fishing management in MPAs;
  • The updating of studies and data concerning the relationship between the status of fishery resources and the status/health of the marine environment;
  • The development of specific studies on ecological connectivity among different MPAs, and on areas of particular relevance in the development of species of commercial interest;
  • The fostering of incentives promoting sustainable small scale fisheries (e.g. awareness campaigns) and activities ensuring additional income for local fishermen (e.g. labeling of fisheries catches);
  • The development of proper systems for monitoring the economic and environmental effectiveness of a co-managed fishery system.


  • The clarification of the geography of small scale fishery governance (e.g. through a “stakeholders analysis”) in different contexts and countries;
  • Despite the effort that MPA managers can put in order to informally engage fishermen and other stakeholders, new juridical tools are required to ease stakeholder engagement and reach a true co-management by sharing decisional power between national/regional management bodies and stakeholders;
  • Such co-managed fishery systems should be supported by local administrations, through direct (e.g. fiscal benefits) and indirect (e.g. communication) actions.


  • Data exchange with similar MED projects (MedTrends, NEMO, MITOMed).
  • Development of synergies with MedPan, capitalizing previous work done on artisanal fisheries in the context of Mediterranean MPAs.