Working with fishermen in MPAs

1. Interview with Milena Ramov, Telašćica nature park manager, Croatia


Fishermen are key for the sustainable management of fish stocks and ecosystems in MPAs. How do you work together?


Throughout history fishing has been a source of livelihood for many families on the island. Unfortunately, with the development of new technologies, pressure on fish stocks has dramatically increased – and this is visible in the park. Constant monitoring of fish stocks shows that they are in danger.

On an island with just over 1000 people, daily communication with fishermen is an integral part of life, a tradition. Conservation services worked with fishermen to come up with solutions together to preserve fish stocks in the park. At first, it seemed nearly impossible, but thanks to some good meetings and the involvement of fishermen in fish stock monitoring and zoning of the marine area, they finally acknowledged the importance of no-take zones – areas where fishing is not allowed so that fish can grow and breed undisturbed.

Fishermen were also involved  in developing a proposal for fisheries regulation inside Telašćica.

What do you hope to have achieved at the end of the project? What is your dream?

I hope that at the end of the project mutual trust between the marine protected area management team and small-scale fishermen will be established – to work towards the same goal, which is sustainable fishing in Telašćica.

We hope that local fishermen will realize the importance and benefit of such a project and that they will be interested in participating more in fisheries management in Telašćica. We also hope that the governance toolkit for small scale fishermen that we will generate will be used throughout the Mediterranean and not only in the MPAs included in the project.

We will implement new measures for fisheries management (replace small mesh size nets with bigger ones and establish a database to keep track of illegal activities) which should lead to an increase in fish stocks in the next few years.

How do you think fishermen and MPA managers can change the fate of the Mediterranean Sea?

Fishermen's hands on experience of the sea and fishing, combined with scientific knowledge and a good legal framework is fundamental for the fate of the Mediterranean Sea. Full involvement of fishermen in fisheries management in protected areas will ensure sustainability of marine resources in the long term. Only by working together can we make the right decisions and see positive results.

2. Interview with Dr Charalampos Dimitriadis, Head of scientific research in the National Marine Park of Zakynthos, Greece


Fishermen are key for the sustainable management of fish stocks and ecosystems in MPAs. How do you work together?


We have chosen an interactive and cooperative approach. The management agency of the MPA brings together the fishermen's union, the port police authority and the local fisheries department as part of a management committee. Although it requires a big investment of time and effort, it has proven to be a straightforward and effective way of working together so far. 

What do you hope to have achieved at the end of the project? What is your dream?

At the end of the project we expect to have well established management tools and mechanisms that will assist us in reaching conservation objectives and satisfying human needs at the same time. There is not, and will never be, unanimous agreement concerning management decisions, but we hope that this project will help us to gain more extensive support for these management tools in the long term.


MPAs are hatcheries for many species of fish. Which fish is the National Marine Park of Zakynthos known for and how do you manage their populations?

The National Marine Park of Zakynthos is predominantly known as one of the most important nesting areas for the loggerhead sea turtle Caretta caretta in the Mediterranean, but it is also home to several endangered, rare and emblematic fish species including rays, groupers, brown meagre. Artisanal fishery is a traditional activity that supports the well being of local society. We have adopted an ecosystem-based approach to manage fish fauna along with other species and habitats while ensuring the sustainability of the fishing sector itself.


What role do you think fishermen and MPA managers can play to change the fate of the Mediterranean Sea?

MPA managers and fishermen are key players for fisheries management and fish stock conservation. MPAs can be seen as spatially restricted ‘laboratories’ for fisheries and fish stock management – the knowledge gained from their performance and governance can be used in fisheries management at a larger scale. This bottom-up approach can definitely contribute towards the improvement of current fisheries management in the Mediterranean.