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Keywords:

  • archipelago;
  • coastal;
  • ecosystem approach;
  • sustainability;
  • mammals;
  • fish;
  • fishing;
  • pollution

ABSTRACT

  1. Despite their geographic proximity, the Gulf of Ambracia and the Inner Ionian Sea Archipelago are remarkably different in terms of environmental features, human activities, and dolphin species composition and densities.
  2. Interviews of small-scale professional fishermen (n = 100) showed that younger generations do not see any future in fisheries and that the traditionally-oriented fishing community is rapidly changing.
  3. Fish captures have reportedly decreased dramatically during the last 20 years. The main factors having an adverse impact on the sustainability of small-scale fisheries differed significantly between areas.
  4. Net damage as a consequence of dolphin predation was almost unanimously reported. Hence, fishermen seemed genuinely interested in collaborating in future research initiatives to evaluate the damage caused by dolphins and to explore potential mitigation strategies.
  5. Dolphins were not the only animals held responsible for net damage, nor those reportedly causing the largest economic loss to small-scale fisheries, which was attributed to either sea turtles or the critically endangered monk seal, depending on the area.
  6. The fishermen of the Gulf of Ambracia advocated the introduction of measures to curtail habitat degradation as the top priority, while their colleagues of the Inner Ionian Sea Archipelago identified fisheries management measures and effective law enforcement as the most urgently needed actions.
  7. Given the high dependency of local communities on fisheries, ensuring their sustainability is crucial to providing local fishers with sufficient income. The top management measures identified by local small-scale fishermen perfectly match the priorities set out within the Natura 2000 network, achievable through an ecosystem-based approach. Failure to take action in a timely manner may lead to irreversible environmental damage coupled with the need for harsher regulatory measures.

Copyright © 2014 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.