Protected areas as learning tools for seamount research and management: the case study of condor seamount, Azores
- NomeEva Giacomello
- Entidade de acolhimentoIMAR-DOP/UAç – Centro IMAR da Universidade dos Açores
The main aim of my project is to provide insights into the effects of a seamount protected area, with the ultimate goal of giving advice on management of seamounts, from an ecosystem-based management point of view that includes an explicit appraisal of the human dimension of the ecosystem. Demersal fishes, the most valuable resource among Azorean fisheries, will be the main focus of the present research and management project. The Condor seamount, a temporary protected area in the Azores, will be used as a case study to address the following issues:
- i. population declines, predicted vulnerability to harvesting and recovery rates of demersal fish species. Assessing the current status of demersal fishes and analyzing available information on their biology that can be used to predict responses to fishing and patterns of recovery represent the first ideal step in a logical progression of a study aimed at helping the decision-making process for managing seamount stocks.
- ii. patterns of change of demersal fishes following a temporary cessation in harvesting will be investigated to provide the first insights into responses to fishing impacts. The Condor seamount area is currently closed to bottom fisheries, representing an ongoing, unique, large-scale experiment through which testing the effects of protection regime on seamount demersal fish communities. The Condor case study is a pilot experience to learn lessons that could inspire new ways of managing seamount areas, and needs to be monitored and evaluated on a regular basis.
- iii. management options for the Condor seamount. Results obtained from the present project and major findings from the research conducted during the CONDOR project, including those related to the human dimension of Condor seamount, will be put together to develop a range of management scenarios useful to support the decision-making process for the future management of this seamount. Possible management options will take into account inputs from all the users of this area, including scientists, stakeholders and local authorities. Acquired knowledge will be translated in an appropriate language and transferred to the end-users (stakeholders and policy managers), to bridge the gap between science and management.
Because the Condor seamount case study is currently of strong interest for the Azorean community, my project is expected to have a significant and direct impact at the regional level. On a broader scale, it will contribute to increasing knowledge on the effects of protected areas, predictors of vulnerability to fishing and recovery rates in seamount ecosystems, which are still poorly known with this regard. Both within the regional and international scopes of seamount and deep-sea research, it is mandatory to reduce the lag of science in relation to human disturbances, such as fishing, which are already producing negative impacts on such vulnerable ecosystems.
Beyond the strictly scientific issues, the project will address aspects more related to knowledge-based fisheries management, to advise on a range of possible management options for the Condor seamount. Lessons learned from Condor case study, on research and management, will be potentially useful for managing other seamounts, in the Azores region, or other similar areas in the world.