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Assessment of BIOMass EXport from marine protected areas and its impacts on fisheries in the western Mediterranean Sea. Origins of BIOMEX. ECOLOGICAL EFFECTS OF PROTECTION IN MEDITERRANEAN MARINE RESERVES. MAS3-CT97-0155.

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Assessment of BIOMass EXport from marine

protected areas and its impacts on fisheries

in the western Mediterranean Sea


Origins of BIOMEX




The overall aim of ECOMARE is to unite and coordinate the efforts of a broad group of research teams involved in assessing the effects of protection in Mediterranean littoral ecosystems. Within EU waters,

Mediterranean reserves are singled out for this study, not only because of their geographical proximity, but also because they share important oceanographic and ecological features.

The specific objectives proposed in this action are:

1. To establish the state of knowledge of the responses of marine communities to protective measures in Mediterranean littoral ecosystems.

2. To identify the main research needs and steps forward to progress from the assessment of effects on exploited species to the assessment of the reserve effect at the ecosystem level.

3. To standardize the working methodologies and data analysis and management procedures for research in the areas identified in 2 so that in the future, investigations can be carried out in a coordinated and

comparable manner.


Assessment of BIOMass EXport from marine

protected areas and its impacts on fisheries

in the western Mediterranean Sea

This proposal will investigate the efficiency of Marine Protected Areas as sources of biomass. The main objective is to assess the export of fisheries-related biomass from MPAs to surrounding areas. Measures of efficiency of MPAs for biomass export will be based on a multidisciplinary approach that will include biological and fisheries aspects. In this project, we consider MPAs as a management tool for sustainable fisheries in areas open to fishing.


1) To estimate the export of adult fishes from MPAs. Evidence of biomass export will be obtained by assessing the existence of a gradient of abundance and mean size of target species across boundaries of the reserve.

  • 2) To estimate pelagic export resulting from the dispersal of eggs and larvae. We will determine the distribution and size/age of planktonic larvae within and surrounding the marine reserve, looking for a gradient of larval abundance in relation to the age of larvae. This survey will be linked to a survey of the hydrography of the area that will describe the dispersal potential of passive eggs and larvae from the MPAs.
  • 3) To estimate the contribution of adult fish export to fisheries. To quantify the impact of MPAs on fisheries we will carry out experimental fishing surveys at increasing distances from the MPA boundaries to assess gradients of catch per unit effort. In addition, we will sample on board commercial fishing vessels operating in adjacent fishing grounds.
  • 4) Finally, we intend to translate our findings from the first three project components into management actions and recommendations for MPA policies in order to ensure the valorisation of these scientific results into actual achievements for a better management of marine coastal areas.

Main commitments

  • A common objective over approaches
  • A multidisciplinary approach
  • A common sampling plan
  • 6 Marine protected Areas

A common objective

=> defining a gradient of biomass

Fish biomass





Increasing distance from the MPA


Visual census

Video survey

Fishing survey

A multidisciplinary


Plankton and oceanographic survey

CPUE survey


(WP2) Measurement of gradient of biomass across MPA boundaries using underwater visual census techniques.

(WP3) Video survey of fish target species within and around MPAs

(WP4) Measuring the gradient of abundance of eggs and larvae across MPA boundaries and modelling the surrounding oceanography to estimate the export of potential recruits and their area of influence

(WP5) Use of experimental fishing to quantify MPA adult export

(WP6) Survey of distribution of catches and effort around MPAs



WP1: Coordination



Resp.: 1

Part.: all


Estimating biomass export


Measuring export of adult populations

Fisheries value of biomass export



WP2: Visual census

WP5: Fishing survey

Measuring export of eggs & larvae

Resp.: 2

Part.: 3, 4, 7, 8

Resp.: 4 / Part.: 3

WP4: Plankton survey

WP6: CPUE around MPAs

WP3: Video survey

Resp.: 5

Part.: 1, 2, 6, 9

Resp.: 3

Part.: 1, 2, 4, 5, 7

Resp.: 7

Part.: 1, 3


6 Marine Protected Areas

  • that have been established for at least the last 10 years;
  • for which there is already a large background of data showing higher biomass inside;
  • easily accessible and where managers are known to be approachable and willing to develop collaborative research projects.

3 coastal MPAs

(Banyuls, Carry, and Cabo de Palos);

3 island MPAs that are close to the coastline

(Tabarca, Cabrera, Medes)



Coordinator :

Contributors :

GIS Posidonie - Université de Luminy - Marseille

Institut Espanol de Oceanografia

- Centro de Baleares

Institut de ciencies del Mar - Barcelona

Universitat de Alicante

Universitat de Murcia


University College - Dublin

World Wildlife Fundation - France