“The Mediterranean Sea is one of the areas of the world where the rise in water temperature is accelerating more and where heat waves are increasingly intense and frequent,” explains Elena Ojea, teacher and researcher and head of the Future Oceans Lab of the Marine Research Center of the University of Vigo, which together with 14 other institutions from eight European countries, participates in the Interreg Mediterranean Engaging Mediterranean key actors in Ecosystem Approach to manage Marine Protected Areas to face Climate change ”(MPA- Engage ). With a budget of three million euros, the European project, coordinated by the Institute of Sciences of the Sea of the Spanish Research Council (CSIC), aims to support and promote the role of marine protected areas for adaptation and mitigation of the impacts of climate change, designing a series of adaptation plans for the marine protected areas of the Mediterranean, which serve to face the important impacts that are happening in this region.
The project, which lasts two years and is a continuation of MPA-Adapt, which ended in 2019, focuses on seven marine protected areas (MPAs): Brijuni (Croatia), Portofino (Italy), Calanques (France), Zakynthos (Greece), Karaburuni (Albania), Cap de Creus (Spain) and Tavolara Punta Coda Cavallo (Italy). “MPAs are important for preserving and improving socioecological resilience, however, there is a lack of specific adaptation plans in most of them, despite the general agreement that these areas play a key role in climate change adaptation, and this project will help address the impacts of climate change and create specific adaptation plans,”says the researcher at the CIM of UVigo. Together with the scientists of Future Oceans Lab, the participation of the University of Vigo in this project is completed with the professor and researcher of the Public Law Department Laura Movilla, “who has significant experience in climate change and marine conservation agreements ”, adds Ojea.
MPA- Engage is led by the researcher Joaquim Garrabou of the Institut de Ciències del Mar and in it participates, in addition to the University of Vigo, the Department of Territory and Sustainability of Wool Generalitat de Catalunya, the government of the Liguria region, institutions of research (Stazione Zoologica Anton Dohrn, Polytechnic University of Marche), the management bodies of the seven marine protected areas (Catalonia, France, Italy, Croatia, Albania and Greece), as well as non-governmental organizations: MIO-ECDSE and the Foundation Diving Alert Network.
The Vigo contribution to the project
In addition to improving knowledge of marine ecosystems and their interrelations with human activities to address the impact of climate change, the MPA-Engage project will develop vulnerability assessments and define adaptation plans in protected areas and fisheries sectors recreational and small scale, in addition to improving the effectiveness of these areas as nature-based solutions to adapt and mitigate climate change. For their part, and with a subsidy of 100,000 euros, researchers from the University of Vigo will focus “on the design and implementation of socio-ecological analyzes of vulnerability to climate change. On the one hand, we are going to see how climate change affects protected ecosystems, and on the other, the vulnerability of the activities and populations of people who depend on protected areas such as artisanal fishing or sustainable tourism”, details the researcher of the UVigo
MPA- Engage links with the research lines developed by Future Oceans Lab and that leads them to use the knowledge and scientific experience they have to facilitate adaptation to specific protected areas, in which they will work hand in hand with managers. “This implies continuing our research, but deepening into the practical implications, towards marine management,” explains Elena Ojea, who hopes that “the project has an impact on important marine management and decision-making and that adaptation plans are developed that help to mitigate the impacts of climate change in the Mediterranean ”.