This document is intended as a contribution to the strategic action plans to limit the impact of fishing activities on biological diversity in the Mediterranean under the Strategic Action Plan for Biodiversity (SAP Biodiversity), which is expected to provide a logical basis for the implementation of the 1995 Specially Protected Areas Protocol (Barcelona Convention).
The work has been structured around a set of self-contained sections dealing with the main threats to marine biodiversity (including both vulnerable species and habitats) arising from fishing gears or practices in use in Mediterranean waters. The issues have been dealt with in two sections, one on fishing impacts on vulnerable species and habitats, and the other on specific aspects related to selected fishing gears and practices of special interest in the Mediterranean. General single-pecies issues related to the overfishing of commercial species have been deliberately omitted from the analysis, since they are the object of extensive studies elsewhere and a great deal of attention is paid to them in other fora.
The author has prepared an apparently classic analysis, useful for practical purposes, but has tried to avoid the pitfall of a purely reductionist dissecting of reality, aware of transversal or even higher-level issues connecting many of the individual questions analysed. An attempt has been made to give due weight to these interrelations as well as the overall ecosystem effects of fishing on the structure or functioning of the ecosystems (resulting from both past and present practices) throughout the different sections of this document. The document's chief merit is that it collates reliable information from different sources on the different ecosystem effects of fishing in the Mediterranean, and provides a coherent picture of the overall impact of fishing on regional biodiversity. Most of this integrative vision is specifically addressed in the conclusion section.
This work is focused on the Mediterranean, discarding unnecessary or redundant information from other areas of the world, even if better studied. Where information related to some of the major issues is scarce, special attention has been devoted to the few studies available, given their qualitative importance. The aim has been, thus, to produce a specifically Mediterranean document.