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Improving artisanal fishing techniques for mitigating their impact on the seabed of Cap de Creus

Fishermen and scientists will explore the seabed with submarine robots in order to assess the impact of fishing activities and design environmentally friendly techniques. Led by the CSIC, and with the contribution of fishermen from Port de la Selva and Cadaqués, the project will take place in a marine area of 9,000 square meters, which has been recently declared Site of Community Interest. With the contribution of Fundación Biodiversidad from the Spanish MAPAMA, trough the Pleamar Program, co-funded by the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund.

 Scientists and fishermen will work togheter to improve preservation of Cap de Creus's natural biodiversity  Seabed of the continental shelf and slope (until 500 meters depth) in the Cap de Creus (Girona, Spain) has been declared as Site of Community Interest in the Spanish Natura 2000 network. Because of its well-preserved singular and high biodiversity, it is considered one of the most outstanding places of the Mediterranean Sea.  

Nevertheless, artisanal fishing in the area produces some impacts on the seabed, although comparatively smaller than those caused by intensive fishing.

Now, the project MitiCap will develop mechanisms to improve the preservation of this natural heritage. MitiCap is led by Josep-Maria Gili, a CSIC research professor in the Instituto de Ciencias del Mar of Barcelona (ICM-CSIC). The scientific team will work together with fishermen from Port de la Selva and Cadaqués. The project is supported by the Fundación Biodiversidad from the Spanish Ministry of Farm, Fisheries, Food and Environment (MAPAMA), within the Pleamar Program, co-funded by the the European Maritime an Fisheries Fund.

Exploration with submarine robots

Firstly, scientists and fishermen will delimitate the spots where fishermen usually place the fishing nets. Afterwards, between March and April they will develop collaborative campaigns to assess the state of the seabed using submarine robots and image analysis techniques for the exploration.

The study of the images, which will be recorded at the same moment when fishermen are working, will enable to quantify the damages caused by fishing activities and to design fishing techniques to reduce them. These changes could affect the way nets are installed and collected, as well as the fishing areas.  

Once the new proposals are defined, they will be tested during experimental fishing between July and September. Using again submarine robots, the team will monitor the benthic communities to assess the reduction of the damage and how marine communities evolve.

Follow MitiCap project https://twitter.com/miticap2018