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Scientific magazines

Y. Issaris, S. Katsanevakis, M. Pantazi, V. Vassilopoulou, P. Panayotidis, S. Kavadas, M. Salomidi, A. Frantzis, A. Panou, D. Damalas, D. Klaoudatos, D. Sakellariou, V. Drakopoulou, C. Kyriakidou, I. Maina, J. Fric, C. Smith, S. Giakoumi and G. Karris (2012). Mediterranean Marine Science 13(2): 297-311. November 2012. DOI: 10.12681/mms.312

Abstract: Mapping of ecosystem components (natural and socioeconomic) is a prerequisite for ecosystem-based marine spatial management (EB-MSM). To initiate the process of EB-MSM in the Greek Ionian Sea and the adjacent gulfs, the main relevant ecosystem components were mapped based on existing spatial information and expert judgment. The natural components mapped included habitat types and species targeted for conservation, according to national and European legislation and international agreements. Main human activities/pressures related to fisheries, aquaculture, tourism, and industry were also mapped. In order to assess the quality of data used to map ecosystem components and therefore take into consideration the inherent uncertainty, an assessment of 5 semi-quantitative data indicators based on a pedigree matrix was conducted. Through this qualitative approach we gained information related to the sources, acquisition and verification procedures, statistical properties, and temporal & geographical correlation, along with the collection process quality of the ecosystem components under study. A substantial overlapping between ecological features and human activities was identified, confirming the need for a well-planned approach to marine space management, in order to mitigate conflicts for marine resources and conserve marine ecosystems and their associated goods and services.

  • Could European marine conservation policy benefit from systematic conservation planning?

    Sylvaine Giakoumi, Stelios Katsanevakis, Vassiliki Vassilopoulou, Panayotis Panayotidis, Stefanos Kavadas, Yiannis Issaris, Athina Kokkali, Alexandros Frantzis, Aliki Panou and Georgia Mavromati (2012).  Aquatic conservation: marine and freshwater ecosystems 22 (6). September 2012. DOI: 10.1002/aqc.2273

    Abstract: The Natura 2000 network of protected areas aims to assure the long-term survival of Europe’s most valuable and threatened species and habitats. Yet, evidence shows that the present network fails to represent effectively the biodiversity of the region. Priority areas for conservation of coastal and offshore biodiversity features in the Greek Ionian Sea were identified, based on the principles of systematic conservation planning (SCP). SCP is a transparent method for the design of MPA networks and is considered more efficient and successful in representing the biodiversity of a region.The prioritization software Marxan was used and three scenarios with different sets of targets for 17 (high and low priority) conservation features were produced. These scenarios explicitly took into account socio-economic factors expressed as a single cost metric, weighting different economic sectors in proportion to their contribution to the GDP of the region. Then results were compared with the existing Natura 2000 sites in terms of goal achievement, area requirements, and cost. The solutions produced by the systematic approach demanded less area and lower cost to achieve the goals set, when the selection of all Natura 2000 sites was not forced. Existing Natura 2000 sites alone failed to achieve conservation goals for some EU priority and other important coastal and offshore habitats and species of the Mediterranean Sea. It is suggested that the use of systematic conservation planning and related computational tools could benefit the selection of European marine priority areas, especially in the context of ecosystem-based marine spatial management.

S. Katsanevakis, D. Poursanidis, Y. Issaris, A. Panou, D. Petza, V. Vassilopoulou, I. Chaldaiou and M. Sini (2011). Mediterranean Marine Science 12(2), 429-438.

Abstract: International agreements as well as European and national legislation prohibit exploitation and trading of edible marine shelled molluscs, due to either significant declines in their populations or destructive fishing practices. However, enforcement of existing legislation in Greece is ineffective and many populations of ‘protected‘ species continue to decline, mainly due to poaching. The extent of illegal trading of protected bivalves and gastropods in Greek seafood restaurants was investigated by interviewing owners or managers of 219 such restaurants in 92 localities. Interviews were based on questionnaires regarding the frequency of availability in the menus and the origin of twenty-one species or groups of species, among which eight are protected – illegally exploited. Forty-two percent of the surveyed restaurants were found to serve at least one of the protected – illegally exploited species. Among the illegally traded species, Lithophaga lithophaga, Pecten jacobaeus and Pinna nobilis were served in a relatively high proportion of the surveyed restaurants (22.8%, 19.2% and 16.4% respectively), outrunning many commercial species. In many cases, these species were always or often available (11.4%, 4.6% and 5.0% respectively). There was substantial spatial variation in the proportion of restaurants that illegally served protected species with different pattern for each species; very high proportions of illegal trading was observed in some marine regions (e.g. date mussels were served in >65% of the seafood restaurants along the coastline of Evvoikos Gulf). In most cases, the illegally traded species were of local origin, while there was no finding of illegally imported molluscs from other countries. The strategy for enforcement of existing legislation should be greatly improved otherwise protection of shelled molluscs will remain ineffective.

A. Panou, L. Alimantiri, P. Aravantinos & G. Verriopoulos (1999).

Abstract: In the past decade, a periodical assessment of the highly endangered Mediterranean monk seal, Monachus monachus, was launched on a pan-hellenic level using standardized questionnaires. The periods covered were: 1982/83, 1984/85 and 1990/91. The evaluation of the data revealed that monk seals still exist almost all over the coastal part of Greece where half of the remaining population lives and breeds. The population is not concentrated only in the N. Sporades, Aegean Sea, the Ionian Sea and some few other regions as often is assumed. Pups were reported from throughout the country in all three phases of the study. Reproductive events appear to have fluctuated during the period of investigation. Our data will hopefully help conservation efforts to include new areas of particular importance for the seals.

Pirounakis, S. Kaloupi, S. Moschonas, Y. Mourelatos, L. Tselentis, N . Voutsinas, V. Voutsinas & A. Panou (1999).

Abstract: In  the Ionian Sea, Greece, a network for the collection of cetacean sightings has been established since 1989. Up to the present time, six cetacean species have been positively identified by photographs and/or by own sightings: the bottelnose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus), the common dolphin (Delphinus delphis), the striped dolphin (Stenella coeruloalba), Risso´s dolphin (Grampus griseus), Cuvier´s beaked whale (Ziphius cavirostris), and the fin whale (Balaenoptera physalus). The first two species are considered as endangered in the Mediterranean. The presence of Risso´s dolphin in the Greek part of the Ionian Sea was first stated by our network. Additionally, there are unconfirmed reports about at least four more species: sperm whales (Physeter catodon), pilot whales (Globicephala melana), killer whales (Orcinus orca) and false killer whales (Pseudorca crassidens). The biodiversity in cetacean species is particularly high in the Eastern Ionian Sea. The network proved to be an effective tool for the collection of data.

Abstract: Incidental by-catches of marine turtles on surface long lines for fishing swordfish were regularly recorded for seven consecutive years (1989-1995) for a total of five vessels based on Kefalonia isl., Ionian Sea, Greece. Altogether, 157 Loggerhead turtles were caught in 142 out  of a total of 785 fishing trips (18.1%). On average, 0.2 turtles were caught per fishing trip and 7.7 turtles per year and vessel. The great majority of the animals (77%) were  small-sized or subadults; only 15% were adult animals. A decline in the frequency of incidental catches over the total period of investigation is indicated. Swordfish fishery may affect less severely the turtle population in the Greek Ionian Sea than loss of nesting habitat and mortality caused by other factors.

Aliki Panou, Jürgen Jacobs & Dimitris Panos (1993).

Abstract: The declining population of monk seals on the Ionian islands of Kefalonia, Ithaca, and Lefkada, Greece, was studied from July 1986 to April 1988. The study included (1) individual identification, (2) number of sightings, (3) use of caves, (4) damage to fishing gear, and (5) deaths. Three hundred and ninety-seven sightings of about 18 seals (including eight pups) were recorded. Maximum sightings occurred in June/July 1987; most sightings were of solitary animals. Twenty of 126 surveyed caves (16%) were used by seals. There were preferences for specific caves. There was no evidence for a diurnal pattern of cave use. Fishing trips near the study sites were monitored, and 136 of 1864 (7.3%) reported damage by seals to fishing gear. Significant correlations were found between sightings, cave use, and damage to fishing gear and/or catch. In an experiment we demostrate that one seal may cause considerable damage in one night. Mortality data of 25 years show that most of reported 34 deaths were caused by deliberate killing (62%) and accidents in fishing gear (24%). Suggested measures for mitigating the decline of monk seals include (1) establishing protection zones, (2) compensating fishermen for losses, and (3) expanding public awareness programmes.