The management of the
Network of Marine Protected Areas of Spain (RAMPE) is a key aspect for the conservation of the marine environment, particularly with regard to fishing activities.
is a key aspect for the conservation of the marine environment, particularly with regard to fishing activities. Seabirds are one of the groups most heavily affected by this activity, due to discards and bycatch.
The reduction of discards promoted by the European Union may have important consequences, particularly for one of the neritic seabird species most dependent on this resource, the Audouin’s gull (Larus audouinii). It is a vulnerable species on a national scale that is particularly threatened by bycatch, but also by dependence on fisheries rejection, pollution of the marine environment and the use as breeding grounds of environments highly transformed by human activities.
Thus, for the first time, the entity has proposed to study the movements of both adults and juveniles of this species, and to understand their interactions with fisheries based on the combined study of GPS tracking of birds with VMS (Vessel Monitoring System) tracking of the fishing fleet. This, according to the University of Barcelona, will improve both fisheries management and the RAMPE.
The main objective of this project has been to improve the management of the Spanish Marine Protected Areas Network and fisheries inside and outside the RAMPE, using the movements and interactions with fisheries of an endangered seabird species: the Audouin’s gull (Larus audouinii).
The specific objectives were as follows:
According to the University of Barcelona, the management of the Network of Marine Protected Areas of Spain (RAMPE) is a key aspect for the conservation of the marine environment, especially in relation to fishing activities. Thus, the entity affirms that seabirds, includingAudouin’s gull, are one of the groups most affected by this activity, through discards and accidental capture.
Within the framework of the GAUDIN project, the distribution of these gulls and their interactions with fishing vessels in the waters of the south and southeast of the Spanish peninsula have been studied, with the aim of improving the management of the RAMPE and the fisheries inside and outside the Network. To do this, researchers have combined GPS tracking of gulls (both adults and juveniles) with satellite tracking (VMS) of the fishing fleet. The results reveal that the marine areas most used by Audouin’s Gulls, both adults and juveniles, are located near the coast and are partially protected by RAMPE. Adult gulls were involved in the vast majority of interactions with the fishing fleet (mainly purse seine and trawl), although these interactions occurred mostly outside the RAMPE areas.
In light of these results, the management measures recommended include the limitation of certain human activities during the breeding season and the onset of migration of Audouin’s gulls in the areas of the RAMPE most used by them, and the implementation of mitigation measures to reduce bycatch risk in those vessels operating on the continental shelf in the Spanish Levant, both inside and outside the RAMPE.
Finally, the organization stresses that, although Audouin’s gull populations have grown in recent decades, they continue to have a low population density. restricted geographic distribution and most specimens breed in Spain (it is estimated that 90% of the world’s nesting population is found in national territory), so it is important to continue making an effort to monitor their populations, evaluate the risks, and design appropriate conservation measures.