24 Months On: Progress Update for Italy Case Study

Activity Updates

Over the past six months, we’ve held five meetings with fishermen involved in the GAP2 study, in Chioggia’s fish market meeting room. The aim of the meetings was to discuss with fishermen the shape of management plans proposals for the Veneto Region fisheries, thereby incorporating fishermen’s opinions and knowledge. Two meetings with the Coastal Guard and the Veneto Region fisheries technical socio-economic staff representatives were also organized to discuss aspects concerning fishery management and control.

Field activities (onboard observers) were carried out until November 2012 and then restarted in March 2013. Data collected through the electronic log-books installed on seven fishing vessels continued, and preliminary analysis of these data were carried out and results were discussed with fishermen.

A further meeting between case study leaders, fishermen organisations, fishermen and politicians was carried out to discuss issues related to the sand-smelt fisheries –  a hot topic in the area. ISPRA worked with fishermen to support a request to re-establish a authorization (through a management plan) for this fishery; a fishery that was formerly fished by small-scale otter-trawls during Winter, but which is now banned.

In February 2013 a two-day workshop on social science methods was held in Chioggia. The workshop was held for all those participating in GAP2 with an interest in social science techniques, and was run by Dr. Maiken Bjørkan, Dr. Mark Dubois and Dr. Marloes Kraan. The organisers provided the participants with guidance on the basics of social science methods, giving them the confidence to use these wider varieties in their case studies. The day after the workshop, a group of GAP2 scientists met some fishermen involved in the Italian case-study and presented the activities carried out in other European case-studies. The fishermen seemed to be very interested in the wider GAP2 project as a whole.

Back in Italy, a contract was enforced in order to establish a database for facilitating data entry and analyses (log-book data, field data). Two MSc thesis will be delivered during July 2013 on the first results of the field activities, pertaining benthic habitat distribution and fisheries resources.

We are now investigating organising an exchange trip between the fishermen from our case study, and those involved with the d the Spanish red shrimp case study.

Field Activities

The main field activities started in April 2012 and ended in November 2012 before starting again in March 2013. Data collection of catches by fishermen using electronic logbook were carried out during the whole period. ISPRA scientists joined the SOLEMON trawl-survey 2012 (in collaboration with CNR-ISMAR Ancona) in order to collect fishery independent data to support the setting of a management plan.

The main aim of the Italian GAP2 case study is to provide support to the definition of local management plans proposals giving value to fishermen’s knowledge and to their participation in field activities. To this purpose, several field activities (i.e., collection of data by means of onboard observers and electronic log-books) have been established in order to:

  • jointly collect data on fishing effort distribution, catches, habitat definition
  • to quantitatively describe fishing effort and biological resources distribution, as a basis to propose management schemes in the region according to a participatory approach.

These activities will be carried out until 2014.

Collecting Knowledge

Participatory mapping was started and will be fully implemented over the next few months, in order to collect fishermen ecological knowledge on fish species and benthic assemblages spatial distribution in the Northern Adriatic Sea. Semi-structured interviews with fishermen are being conducted, so that we can discuss aspects connected to the development of local fishery management plans and take into account fishermen’s ideas and expectations.

Knowledge Integration

The participatory mapping and common focus group will help to relate scientific and stakeholder’s knowledge.

Stakeholder Participation

The collaboration with fishermen and stakeholders improved during the project activities, and the GAP2 project seems to be considered as an interesting bottom-up approach. The technical bodies are used to related to Regional Fishermen organizations without taking into account the scientific evidences provided by research institutions, but we are building relationships.

There are approximately, 10 (mainly skippers) out of 85 FV (trawlers) in the area that we are working with. In order to keep the momentum and engage with fishermen, monthly meetings are being carried out along with face-to-face interviews. Fishermen are also involved in data collection through electronic log-books and hosting on their fishing boats scientific observers.

Timings & Results

There is a bit of a mismatch between expected timings and results delivered. The fishing sector in the Northern Adriatic Sea is facing a dramatic crisis due to a decline in landings and a rise of costs. Moreover, the enforcement of the Common Fishery Policy restrictions on mesh-size, minimum landing size and fishing grounds are explicitly in contrast with traditional fisheries such as sand-smelt (Atherina boyeri) (see above) winter fishery within 3 nautical miles from the coast. Thus, artisanal fishermen ask to continue this activity notwithstanding the current regulations, by implementing local management plans that take into account ecosystem local peculiarities.

Generally speaking, fishermen ask us to be more effective in influencing fishery management at a national and EU level, while they perceive research as something “far” from everyday life and not “useful” to change the current situation since we (GAP2 scientists) are not really involved in fishery management. While we are increasing our collaboration with regional/national authorities, there is still a gap between our activities and the policy making segment that is going to readily influence fisheries management.

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