The largest fish populations are found in the seas of Spain and Italy, while the Greek and Turkish waters verge on the brink of lifelessness, according to the findings of an international search team.
The study, which examined the viability of fish reserves in the seas of Morocco, Tunisia, Spain, Italy, Greece and Turkey, lasted three years. The primary goal was to quantify the effect of marine protected areas on the ecosystems.
“We found a huge gradient, an enormous contrast. In reserves off Spain and Italy, we found the largest fish biomass in the Mediterranean,” said National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence Enric Sala, the study’s head. “Unfortunately, around Turkey and Greece, the waters were bare.”
According to the researchers, the major threats against the ecosystems of the Meditteranean are overexploitation of fish and other resources, destruction of habitat, contamination, a rise in sea surface temperatures due to climate change and more than 600 invasive species.On the southwest coast of Turkey, for example, an invasive fish from the Red Sea called the dusky spinefoot has left Gokova Bay’s rock reefs empty. http://newswatch.nationalgeographic.com/2012/03/02/overfishing-leaves-much-of-mediterranean-a-dead-sea-study-finds/
The most important prognostic factor – however – proved to be the level of legal protection in every such marine area. The more “protected” it is, the more fish manage to survive. According to the research findings, establishing new marine reserves is of crucial significance for the viability of fishery.