Governance Toolkit for managing Small-Scale Fisheries in Marine Protected Areas

Pilot areas
Marine Protected Area (MPA) managers
Co-management, governance, MPA, small-scale fisheries, toolkit


Ensuring the effective management of a Mediterranean MPA requires good governance and an ecosystem-based approach that integrates the fisheries sector, particularly small-scale fishers, as legitimate actors in the decision-making process. The Small-Scale Fisheries (SSF) Governance Toolkit is the cornerstone of a bottom-up, “towards co-management” approach; it describes more than 20 actual measures to enhance the environmental and socio-economic effectiveness of MPAs in SSF management, and the degree of feasibility of each.


Technological infrastructure

No particular technological infrastructure is required for the process of formulating and implementing the SSF Governance Toolkit. Technological requirements may arise involving specific tools that can be adopted, such as the use of video and photo cameras to improve surveillance and patrolling.


Initial training may be required to establish a platform of cooperation between SSF fishers and MPA managers. Specific training activities may be implemented involving specific tools that can be adopted, such as training to enhance the capacity of rangers to enforce fisheries regulations within MPA boundaries, to improve the capacity of fishermen in surveillance activities, and to build the capacity of fishermen to monitor and report catches, sightings of endangered cetaceans and sea turtles, rare sightings and invasive species, and marine litter.


The cost and time needed to implement each of the tools included in the Toolkit have been assessed on a threepoint scale (low-cost, medium-cost and high-cost) by the managers of the pilot MPAs, taking as a reference the annual budget of their MPA, the manpower available to them in their MPA and the number of stakeholders they have to engage in their MPA. Based on the managers’ experience, the attributes with the median highest needs (in terms of cost, time and stakeholder involvement) to implement the corresponding tools were Enforcement and Improving SSF sustainability.



All the tools and management measures that are described in the toolkit have been tested in the 11 pilot MPAs. They have been grouped into five main categories:

  1. Enforcement – enhancing MPA surveillance and patrol capacities.
  2. Engaging fishermen in the decision-making process.
  3. Knowledge and ownership – ensuring decisions are based on all forms of knowledge and information, and encourage awareness and education among stakeholders.
  4. Environmental sustainability of small-scale fisheries.
  5. Economic sustainability, i.e., improving the income of small-scale fisheries.

The SSF Governance Toolkit illustrates the results of testing these measures, and the lessons learned from their implementation.

Recommended implementation frequency

An effective and balanced co-management system must be a dynamic and adaptive process, since MPAs’ conservation related targets can vary over time, fisheries can evolve, like any other economic sector, and, in particular, the status of the environment (including fish stocks) can worsen/improve. For this reason, the system must have a baseline “SSF management plan” and anticipate a shared “control room” (e.g. a formal committee), where MPA managing bodies and fishers meet regularly and take decisions to tackle the changes needed to improve the efficiency of the system and the effectiveness of its actions in relation to the goals set.


  • A genuine willingness to share power, especially by MPA managers, is a fundamental requirement for co-management to be effective.
  • Moreover, local fishers should strive to speak with one voice, or to reach a common position with respect to the MPA proposals.
  • The involvement of other local actors, such as government agencies, researchers, NGOs, and other economic sectors such as the diving industry, can be very useful, although these actors cannot replace the decisions of artisanal fishers.


Quantitative results

By implementing the tools included in the Governance Toolkit for managing Small-Scale Fisheries in MPAs, an effective and shared management system can be built for Small-Scale Fisheries in Mediterranean MPAs.

Transfer potential

The SSF Governance Toolkit can be a useful instrument for any MPA manager who wants to improve governance in their MPA through better cooperation with local small-scale professional fishers. The tested tools can address some of the most recurring problems any MPA manager encounters when dealing with SSF in or around the MPA.

Pilot areas

Butrint National Park (Albania); Cap d’Ail marine reserve (France); Karaburun- Sazan MPA (Albania); Lastovo MPA (Croatia); Pequerolle marine reserve (France); Regno di Nettuno MPA (Italy); Samaria MPA (Greece); Pelagos Sanctuary (Italy-Monaco-France); Secche della Meloria MPA (Italy); Secche di Tor Paterno MPA (Italy); Velebit Channel Marine Reserve (Croatia).


  • In the Telascica MPA (Croatia), thanks to the activities stimulated by the FishMPABlue2 project, the Ministry of Agriculture – Directorate of Fishery has established a Working Group for drafting an “SSF management Plan”, and local small-scale fishers are one of the main actors in this working group.
  • In the Torre Guaceto MPA (Italy), as part of the meetings for the FishMPABlue2 pilot action implementation, the local smallscale fishers agreed to sign a Memorandum of understanding to enlarge the MPA surface area.
  • In the Es Freus MPA (Spain), the Regional government agreed to cover half the costs of the equipment necessary to install video-cameras on the island of S’Espardell, and it stated its willingness to disseminate this tool into other MPAs in the Balearic region, in order to increase the MPA’s real-time surveillance capacity

For further information

Project contact: : FISHMPABLUE2

  • Luca Santarossa (Federparchi) – Project Manager
  • Anne Remy (WWF Med) – Communication Manager
  • Paolo Guidetti (University of Nice) – Scientific Coordinator

Links of interest


  • APAM (Association of the actors from the Var for a small coast fishing and sustainable maritime activities) – MedArtNet
  • ECOMERS (CNRS-University of Nice Sophia Antipolis)
  • French Agency for Marine Protected Areas (AAAMP)
  • Institute of the Republic of Slovenia for Nature Conservation – ZRSVN
  • International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) – Centre for
  • Mediterranean Cooperation
  • Mediterranean Protected Areas Network – MedPAN
  • Mediterranean Wetlands Initiative – MedWet
  • National Inter – University Consortium for Marine Sciences – CoNISMa
  • Spanish Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, Food and Environment
  • University Nice Sophia Antipolis