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Enhancing social well being and economic prosperity by reinforcing the eFFECTIVEness of protection and restoration management in Mediterranean MPAs

The Hellenic Centre for Marine Research (HCMR), one of the esteemed partners of the EFFECTIVE project, is making waves with its remarkable contributions to the preservation and restoration of the EU’s Mediterranean Blue Natural Capital. This dynamic institution takes charge of activities in Pilot Area 4 led by CMMI – Cavo Greco in the Eastern Mediterranean, which aligns with the overarching goals of the EFFECTIVE project.  

From July 8 to 15, HCMR undertook a significant endeavor, conducting underwater surveys in various regions, including Irakleio, Rethymno, Agios Nikolaos, Ierapetra, Chryssi Island, and Messara. These surveys were pivotal in assessing the ecological status of Posidonia oceanica meadows and rocky reefs, key components of the Mediterranean’s rich marine ecosystem.  

Pilot Area 4 – is located adjacent to the recently established Cape Greco Marine Protected Area (MPA) and part of the Natura 2000 network and is a haven for biodiversity. The region boasts a high abundance of algae species, including the ecologically valuable Cystoseira spp. and Sargassum vulgare.. Moreover, this area acts as a sanctuary for several sponge species. Notably, it’s home to endangered  coral species, including Cladocora caespitosa, which is endemic to the Mediterranean and faces threats from anthropogenic activities, climate change, and extreme weather events, as identified by the IUCN Red List.  

The EFFECTIVE project, whose main objective is to develop a comprehensive scientific knowledge base and practical guidance, seeks to apply Ecosystem-Based Management to protect and restore the EU’s Mediterranean Blue Natural Capital. The project focuses on five specific objectives, which include identifying ecological corridors, extending the status of MPAs, demonstrating nature-based seabed protection and restoration solutions, improving existing MPA legislation, and implementing innovative digital tools like Digital Twins for data exploration and citizen science. HCMR’s activities in Pilot Area 4 are a vital component of this mission.  

In Pilot Area 4, the HCMR team is actively working together with members of the Cyprus Marine and Maritime Institute (CMMI), who are leading the Pilot, on species conservation efforts, particularly the endangered coral species Cladocora caespitosa. HCMR’s contribution is focused on monitoring the levels of infaunal and epifaunal biodiversity supported by these restoration actions. Two potential locations for these nurseries, located near the Marine Protected Area of Cavo Greco, have been identified. Importantly, the team is committed to employing non-invasive methods to minimize environmental impact.   

Currently, the two Partners (CMMI and HCMR) are joining forces to establish a sampling scheme in order to provide a comprehensive approach to biodiversity and ecological status assessment of the surrounding ecosystems, which will provide added value to the restoration efforts ahead.  

HCMR’s efforts in Pilot Area 4 align harmoniously with the EFFECTIVE project’s overarching vision to foster sustainable practices and protect the Mediterranean’s natural treasures. Together with its partners, HCMR is contributing to the realization of a comprehensive ecosystem-based management approach that safeguards the unique biodiversity of the region. 

Stay tuned for more updates on these vital initiatives as we journey towards a brighter and more sustainable future for the Mediterranean Blue Natural Capital.