WP4. Identification of spatial synergies/conflicts between fisheries, aquaculture and other human activities and assessment of cumulative impacts of fisheries and aquaculture on coastal ecosystem components with special focus on priority conservation features

Responsible: Vassiliki Vassilopoulou HCMR, Greece

Objectives:

• to assess and map the cumulative impact of fisheries and aquaculture on coastal ecosystems including essential fish habitats and conservation priority habitats in seven case study areas;

• to identify and map the spatial interactions among human activities visualizing arisen conflicts and synergies in seven case study areas. WP4 aims to assess the cumulative impact of aquaculture and fisheries and to identify and map their spatial interactions with other human uses of the marine and coastal environment in the seven case studies.

The assessment of cumulative impacts will capitalize on previous well-established methodologies (Halpern et al., 2008, Korpinen et al., 2012, Micheli et al., 2013) which will be implemented in the seven case studies areas of the European regional seas. WP4 will examine which human pressures derived from aquaculture and fisheries could constitute critical threats to important for conservation coastal and marine habitats including essential fish habitats, according to their vulnerability (Halpern et al. 2008). The assessment of the cumulative impacts of different combinations of pressures and coastal ecosystems contributes to the identification of potential ecological and socio-economic mechanisms that can enhance the resilience of natural systems to multiple stressors (Halpern et al., 2008, Stelzenmüller et al., 2010).

The appropriate spatial data will be provided by national bodies (ministries, environmental management bodies, statistical agencies, port authorities), institutions for marine research and universities. Moreover, this task will be carried out through a systematic analysis over the whole region of ISI journals, reports, gray literature and direct contact with the scientific community and local experts. All partners will be involved in providing georeferenced data and their expert opinion. The mapping of spatial data will be carried out in Geographic Information System (GIS) environment. Within the framework of WP4 thematic maps with the spatial distribution of impacts from aquaculture and fishing activities will be produced in order to illustrate the most and the less affected areas by using color gradation schemes. The identification of the spatial extent and distribution of their activities is also crucial not only for the protection of the marine resources but also for the mitigation of spatial conflicts between human activities in cases of co-location.

WP4 will evaluate interactions between these two activities and among other ones based on a methodology developed within the COEXIST project (http://www.seagrid.an.ismar.cnr.it/grid). The visualization of compatibilities and incompatibilities of sea uses is crucial in order to depict areas where conflicts or synergies between sectors are arising. This methodology will take into consideration specific factors that characterize each activity and in sequence will indicate the gradation of conflicts or synergies in the case studies areas. The computation of conflicts or synergies is made by using a grid with corresponding cell size value equal to 1km and producing thematic maps in ARCGIS environment.

The spatial data will be collected by national bodies (ministries, environmental management bodies, statistical agencies, port authorities), institutions for marine research and universities. The outcomes of this analysis will contribute to the development of management scenarios and marine spatial planning processes.