Archipelagos’ Fisheries Research Centre has established itself on the island of Fourni with the help and cooperation of the local authorities and fisheries association. Since early April, Archipelagos’ multinational research team has been located on the island of Fourni, planning the Fisheries Effort Adjustment plan. This action aims to reduce overfishing in the area, mainly carried out by trawlers, stop illegal and destructive fishing practices, and to promote sustainable fishing through the creation of the first in Greece, co-managed fisheries protected area.
The management plan for the recovery of fisheries in Fourni is a pilot scheme, self-financed and voluntarily carried out by Archipelagos. The Municipality of Fourni is providing offices and accommodation for the researchers. The principal objective of this effort is to pave the way for the implementation of similar management plans in other Greek and SE Mediterranean regions before fish stocks decline further.
The Fishery Research Center’s work:
Seven scientists are already carrying out research on the island. The international research team is recording on a daily basis data about the quantity, size and species composition of the fish catches, as well as data concerning the type of fishing gear used, the areas fished, and the total time dedicated to the fishing process.
In addition to collecting the data above, the Fisheries Research Center has also installed monitoring stations in selected areas of the island, in order to monitor the ecological status of Posidonia oceanica seagrass beds and the effects the invasive algae Caulerpa racemosa is having upon it. Furthermore, Archipelagos’ researchers are mapping the biodiversity of the littoral zone around Fourni through underwater visual census surveys.
As well as working towards the Fisheries Activity Adjustment Plan, Archipelagos is scheduling for the upcoming months:
- A Coralliegene reef mapping workshop in the Fourni Island Area. This is in cooperation with the Regional Activity Center for Specially Protected Areas of the UN’s Environmental Program.
- A workshop to record the presence and activity of marine mammals around the Island. This involves the implementation of monitoring technology in the study of the Mediterranean monk seal, Monachus monachus. This will take place in cooperation with the Regional Activity Center for Specially Protected Areas of the UN’s Environmental Program.
- Mapping of the Posidonia sea grass beds using state of the art equipment, such as deep-sea cameras and side-scan sonar.
For all the activities referred to above, scientists and researchers from all over the world are expected to arrive on the island and take part, a human influx which will stimulate the local economy and internationally promote the uniqueness of the island area of Fourni Korseon.
A decade ago, the area used to compose one of the richest fishing grounds in the Aegean. However, the continuous presence of destructive and illegal fishing practices, carried out by vessels from all around Greece, has dramatically reduced catch sizes and left the local community in financial peril. The creation of the co-managed fisheries protected area is a prerequisite for the degraded fish stocks in Fourni to recover and to ensure the sustainability of fisheries in the area for future generations.
There is no time like the present to work towards the reversal of overfishing and habitat degradation. The success of this plan relies on the fishermen’s cooperation and the collaboration and support of the Municipality of Fourni Korseon.