The LIFE ECOREST project, partnering with, among others, the Fundación Biodiversidad (Foundation for Biodiversity) of the Ministry for Ecological Transition and the Demographic Challenge, was launched in Catalonia with the goal of restoring the deep sea habitats within an area of intervention with a high ecological value located along the coastline of Girona and Barcelona.
This initiative is coordinated by ICM-CSIC and relies on other partners such as the Association of Fishers’ Cooperatives of Girona, the University of Barcelona and WWF España, and is funded by the LIFE programme of the European Union.
In the scope of intervention of this project, it is estimated that over 90% of the sea bottom between depths 50 m – 800 m show signs of degradations, which jeopardizes the regeneration of natural resources. This zone is considered an area of high ecological relevance due to the large populations of endangered, threatened or vulnerable species living in it, including corals and Gorgonia.
For this reason, up to 2026, the LIFE ECOREST shall promote an action programme aimed at improving the conservation status of benthic habitats and supporting the efficiency of a participatory approach including the fishing sectors stakeholders. Specifically, certain active restoration strategies successfully applied in previous projects are to be implemented.
The over 29,000 hectares that are expected to be restored are distributed across 14 fishing protection areas along the coast of Girona and Barcelona. Six of the intervention areas of the project are non-fishing areas throughout the year and the others have temporary restrictions on fishing, which has been agreed by fishers’ cooperatives, the scientific community and the Spanish fishing administrations.
PARTICIPATION AND GOVERNANCE
Among other actions, this project aims to encourage a participatory approach including the fishing sector, creating spaces for dialogue, strengthening governance mechanisms and raising awareness among the population on the importance of preserving deep sea habitats. Besides, the restoration and governance schemes implemented here shall be replicated in other fishing areas, and the results and active conservation measures shall be transferred to other Mediterranean areas in a similar situation.
LIFE ECOREST is aligned with the goals and objectives of the Spanish National Strategy for Green Infrastructure, Connectivity and Restoration Ecology, a fundamental planning tool that allows to identify, conserve, and recover, and subsequently interconnect, damaged ecosystems throughout the Spanish territory.