Second MARES Conference

The Center for Marine Science (CCMAR) is organizing the 2nd Mares Conference on Marine Ecosystems Health and Conservation, in Olhão, Portugal (February 1-5, 2016). This is a suitable Conference to present Minouw and Minouw results. Check the conference link at:


Some summer reading!

Ecosystem-based psychology, or, how I learned to stop worrying and love the data.

The emerging fisheries science paradigm may be drifting in what some applied fisheries scientists consider an intractable assignment – Ecosystem-
Based Fisheries Management (EBFM) or the Ecosystem Approach to Fisheries (EAF). In this paper I suggest that the lack of progress in
implementing EBFM-EAF is partly psychological and that the multidisciplinary approach to it should include psychology, a discipline that has
largely ignored the overwhelming problems of fisheries management.

Read the full article here.

Fishing suitability maps: helping fishermen reduce discards

Discards poses a serious problem for the productivity and sustainability of European fisheries and thus is an important fisheries and ecological management issue to be solved. In this paper we present a tatistical tool, based on the random forest technique, that aims to reduce the negative ecological impact of fishing by providing fishermen with near-real-time maps of a fishing suitability index based on haul-by-haul catch and discard rates, indicating the most suitable areas for fishing. These easy-to-interpret maps are to be accessible to users via an online geoportal. Observer data from the Spanish discard sampling program from 2004 to 2008 for several species caught in the Cantabrian Sea (ICES area VIIIc) were used to illustrate the random forest approach. Results in the case study varied among species and seasons, with better results achieved for balanced datasets, such as those for economically valuable target species with segregated life stages. We discuss how this online tool could be useful for fisheries management, particularly in the context of the European Common Fisheries Policy reform and the discard ban on commercial species.

Read the full article here.

MINOUW dissemination activities in Majorca

On Saturday (11.07.2015) the MINOUW project and its activities were presented to the public by the Mediterranean Institute of Advanced Studies, which collaborated in “POSIDONIA FESTIVAL” - International Festival of Art, Environment and Sustainable Development”, held in Deià, Majorca. This festival is an Eco Festival that is all about Art and Nature, and it is an activity of Posidonia Mediterranean Eco Development (PMED). PMED is an International non-profit Association promoting ecologically aware culture through events, initiatives and awareness campaigns. Their main objective is to disseminate scientific knowledge and practices to the public, promoting environmental protection and sustainable de​velopment.

For more information about the event, click here.

Improving the selectivity of bottom trawling and small scale net fisheries: successful workshops in Catalonia

After two successful meetings in Blanes and Sant Carles de la Ràpita earlier this year to introduce the MINOUW project to local stakeholders, the MINOUW team started the first round of stakeholder workshops in the two ports on the 3rd July and the 10th July.

“The workshops were attended by many fishers and supported by the presence of the Director General for Fisheries of Catalonia and fishermen representatives. There is a genuine commitment from the fishing industry to become part of the solution to the discards problem. We are very happy about this success and really feel we are on the right track towards more sustainable fisheries in the region”, said Dr Sergi Tudela, WWF.

The work in Blanes is aimed at improving the selectivity of the local bottom trawling fleet while in Sant Carles de la Ràpita it addresses small scale net fisheries. These fleets in Catalonia account for a total of 260 and 440 vessels, respectively.

Blanes is located some 70 km North of Barcelona and fishing activity there benefits from the presence of an important submarine canyon. Sant Carles de la Ràpita is at some 150 km south of Barcelona, and fishing fleets exploit the rich fishing grounds associated to the delta of the Ebre River.

A series of multi-stakeholder participatory workshops will be developed along one year period on both ports to first make a diagnostic on the situation of unwanted catches and discards, then design and agree on workable solutions to test at sea the following year. Besides, scientists will work with fishers to conduct some relevant field studies. Other relevant issues to be addressed are the design of fishers-based data collection schemes and the generation of feedback to the EU to better fine-tune the implementation of the new landing obligation rules.

Workshops will be held approximately every two months.

Additionally, from July 28th to 30th a first fishermen exchange gathering will be conducted by MINOUW in Viareggio, Italy, involving trammel net fishers from Algarve, Catalonia, Mallorca and Tuscany. Fishers will discuss on technical solutions to avoid unwanted catches and discards in net fisheries, and will exchange experiences from their local fisheries. Similar gatherings are scheduled in 2016 and 2017 involving purse seine fishers and bottom trawl fishers.

Individual specialization on fishery discards by lesser black-backed gulls (Larus fuscus)

While seabird –fishery associations are well documented, this research primarily comes from ship-based surveys and consequently individual level responses to discard availability are largely unknown. As part of a long-term study on lesser black-backed gulls (Larus fuscus) in the Netherlands, the fine-scale movements of adults were tracked with GPS tags throughout the breeding period. The aim of this study was to determine if lesser blackbacked gulls were utilizing fishery discards in the Wadden Sea and to examine possible consequences of this behaviour. Within the Wadden Sea during weekdays, tracked birds predominately associated with zones where fishing vessels are known to operate (deep gullies). Across all individuals
combined (n ¼ 40), there was a significantly reduced use of the Wadden Sea during weekends when the fleets were not operating. Eight females, who markedly increased their use of the Wadden Sea during weekdays throughout the breeding period, were largely responsible for this pattern. The loss of discard resources on weekends primarily resulted in these eight individuals switching to terrestrial foraging areas. Nest attendance and total foraging time were consistent between weekdays and weekends, suggesting that resource shifts on weekends did not impact daily time budgets. As such, it appears that lesser black-backed gulls specializing on discard utilization are able to flexibly respond to the temporary loss
of discards by switching to alternative resources.

Read the full text here

Selective fishing versus balanced harvesting

17 July 2015. Froese et al. published a critique of the balanced harvesting (BH) approach to fishing

BH proposes to spread the extraction of biomass from marine systems across the entire size spectrum, not simply focusing on traditional fisheries resources. By applying a rate of fishing mortality of similar magnitude to natural mortality, proponents of BH suggest that the impact of human exploitation of marine living resources would lessen and overall yields would increase.

Froese et al. (2015) show that justification for BH was based on insufficient evidence and that more selective fishing (in line with MINOUW objectives) is the key step forward in the rational exploitation of marine living resources.

Mediterranean and Black Sea States strengthen their cooperation and take historic measures for the future of fisheries in the region

The representatives of 25 countries of the Mediterranean basin and the Black Sea, Japan, the European Union as well as intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations have taken historic steps on the occasion of the thirty-ninth annual session of the General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean (GFCM) of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), held in Milan on 25‑29 May 2015.

Shortly after the entry into force of its new legal instrument reinforcing its efficiency and setting ambitious objectives, the GFCM has just agreed upon important measures for the management and conservation of fisheries resources in both the Mediterranean and the Black Sea. In particular, the Members of the GFCM have adopted four binding recommendations setting emergency measures for small pelagic fisheries in the Adriatic Sea, standards for bottom trawling demersal fisheries in the Strait of Sicily as well as measures to ensure sustainable fisheries management and to deter illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing in the Black Sea. In a situation where most fishery resources are overexploited and are progressively being depleted, it is becoming urgent that all the riparian States work together and take common decisions to properly manage the resources they share. The adopted measures are in line with this and represent a decisive step towards more sustainable fisheries in the region.

Read more:

Mission impossible: Discard management plans for the EU Mediterranean fisheries under the reformed Common Fisheries Policy

The landings obligation (or ‘discard ban’) included in the new EU Common Fisheries Policy prohibits the discarding of species subject to catch limits and those subject to minimum size limits in the Mediterranean Sea. However, some exemptions may apply, and to this end a discards management plan is required. Based on the recent joint recommendations for discard management plans in the Mediterranean, it was identified that in order to compile an eligible future discard management plan for the Mediterranean fisheries and apply for any exemption, a series of steps will have to be taken towards defining a legal framework under which Mediterranean fisheries can be assessed for their performance. The current system seems inadequate to document actual catches, urges to be updated and above all disqualifies Mediterranean fisheries from been granted any eligible discard management plan. The current longstanding legislative framework, tailored to deal with the ‘peculiarities’ of Mediterranean fisheries by establishing an effort-based management scheme, has now become an immovable obstacle towards dealing with unwanted catches. Mediterranean stakeholders will have to decide if it is worth moving from an effort-based to a catch-based management system, or if the benefits realized by the former would be difficult to be ounterbalanced under any other system.

Read the full article here


This case study will be developed by participants #1 (CSIC-ICM) and #4 (WWF) and will follow a combined strategy of participatory appraoch and deploying new technologies to minimize pre-catch mortality or enhance selectivity.

The project has been presented to the Fishers Association of Catalonia and to the Fisheries Directorate of the Autonomous Government of Catalonia during meetings held in May 2015. Both actors stressed the importance of finding solutions collaboratively, taking into account the expertise of fishers, scientits and local managers. One of the outcome of this communication process was to establish two fishing harbours in the study area (Blanes and Sant Carles de la Ràpita) that will serve as pilot areas to deploy the multi-actor approach.

On Sat. 30 May 2015 a meeting was held in the Public Library of Blanes where the R&I Action MINOUW was presented to fishers of the Blanes Fishers Association. This event was covered by the local press and served to kick-off the participatory approach, which will entail periodic meetings with fishers during a 12-month period.