ESAmar – Exploration of ecologically sensitive areas with special emphasis on growth, development and protection of commercially important maritime organisms

2018-2022 – Croatian Science Foundation

Biological renewable resources in the Adriatic are composed mainly from demersal and pelagic fish, crustacean and cephalopods species. Status of their population size, strongly depends on the intensity of exploration as well as on the intensity of recruitment because in general, sustainability of population depends on successful recruitment of young fish in nursery areas and migration from nursery areas to the other areas of distribution inhabited by adult fraction of the population (feeding and spawning areas). Hence, an evidence-based understanding of the distribution of spawning and nursery grounds (as ecologically sensitive areas) is required to allow scientific community and decision makers to improve management activities related to the protection of marine resources.

The main goal of the proposed Project is to identify the ecologically sensitive areas of commercially important demersal and pelagic species in the Adriatic Sea, describe population and community statuses within, as well as detect main ecological parameters crucial for development and recruitment.

The research will be conducted in the framework of specific objectives:

1) critical review of existing data regarding spawning and nursery features of exploited demersal and pelagic stocks and existing fisheries regulation with gap analysis;

2) identification of ecologically sensitive (spawning, nursery) areas for main commercial demersal and pelagic species;

3) improvement of knowledge about the status of marine communities in the ecologically sensitive areas, intra- and interspecies interactions and status of the most important demersal and pelagic populations (occurrence, distribution, population dynamic, biomass indexes (egg/larvae/juvenile/adult), exploitation patterns etc.);

4) proposing measures for future adequate management of the renewable marine resources based on gained knowledge on their ecologically sensitive areas and interactions streaming to ecosystem approach in the fisheries.

The overall objective of this Project is to improve knowledge on ecologically sensitive areas of commercially exploited species, inter and intra-species relationships within, and to establish scientific platform in order to achieve conservation and long-term sustainable use of marine living resources in a manner that respects both integrity of ecosystems and the socio-economic interests.

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