Restoration of marine habitats
Marine ecosystems are the home of habitats and species which are pivotal to life on Earth, such as meadows of Neptune grass, corals, or sponges. However, many of these marine communities are in a deficient state of conservation and damaged after decades of withstanding the impact of human activity.
This is true for corals, Gorgonia and sponges, among other sessile organisms, which have an invaluable role as architects and landscapers of sea bottoms as well as providing shelter areas and food to other species. For this reason, if these sessile species disappear, others do too.
In an attempt to revert this situations, no-fishing areas were established, in which fishing activities are permanently and entirely forbidden in order to allow commercial species to recover, such as hake, red shrimp, and scampi, and protect other species. However, habitat recovery is very slow, and, for this reason, it is vital to accelerate restoration processes.
In this mission we have an ally: marine restoration, which includes different actions aimed to revert the degradation of sea habitats and restore their natural values. It is not a default solution but rather the last step to complete the restoration of damaged natural resources.
DEEP SEA HABITATS
Deep sea habitats provide shelter and food to many species and boost marine biodiversity, since they play a fundamental role in the vital cycle of many sea organisms. Besides, they offer economic and recreational benefits.
Deep reefs (habitat 1170) are one of the five types of marine habitats listed in Annex I of the Habitats Directive as natural habitats of community interest. This project endeavours to restore this habitat but will also focus on the restoration of soft bottoms (sand bed and mud beds) or mixed substrates.
Protecting and preserving these spaces is important for everyone. For this reason, one of the core values of the LIFE ECOREST is the active collaboration of the fishing sector, which is a cornerstone to successfully achieve the goals of the project. Specifically, one of the project’s partners is the Association of Fishers’ Cooperatives of Girona, which groups a series of cooperatives of fishers that work within the area of the scope of the project. The mission of the LIFE ECOREST project is to launch participative processes aimed at getting all stakeholders, both local and national, on board.
Besides, the collaboration of stakeholders of other sectors is sought for the recovery and conservation of marine habitats, as well as to communicate its relevance to the rest of the company.
OTHER PROJECTS AND RESOURCES
Rescap I, II and III: conservation and recovery of Gorgonia populations
Term: 2018 -2021. Its last edition took place in 2022.
Merces project: Marine Ecosystem Restoration in Changing European Seas.
The MERCES project, financed by European Union funds, has focused on the restoration of different degraded marine habitats with the ultimate goal of assessing the potential of different approaches and technologies to improve current restoration initiatives and develop new ones, increase adaptation of these ecosystems to global warming and improve their resilience.
Miticap Project I, II and III: cooperation between the fishing and the scientific communities to mitigate the impacts of fishing in sensitive marine habitats
Term: 2018 -2019. Its last edition took place in 2022.
Restaura CORAL Spain project: encouraging blue entrepreneurship
This project encouraged entrepreneurship in the blue economy sector by means of capacitation and improvement of entrepreneur skills of any person participating in innovative sea restorative methods, and specifically in coral restoration.
SEASTORE projects: conservation and restoration of meadows of marine phanerogams
The SEASTORE project: Conservation and restoration of meadows of Cymodocea nodosa (marine phanerogam; work has been carried out to update the conservation status of meadows, assess the ecosystem services they provide and produce updated, standardized monitoring and restoration protocols for this species in the Canaries Islands.
Term: 2021- currently
INTERESTING RESOURCES ON RESTORATION OF MARINE HABITATS
For some in-depth resources on restoration of marine habitats, you will find more reports, materials and links below.