Unintended changes of artisanal fisheries métiers upon implementation of an MPA
Establishing marine protected areas (MPAs) is one of the most significant measures governments can take to halt the degradation of marine ecosystems and fisheries overexploitation. Although MPAs can be created with the support of current stakeholders, mainly fishers, implementation of spatial restrictions and of no-take zones in particular, force adjustments to the existing fisheries in the area. The Llevant de Mallorca-Cala Rajada MPA (Spain, Western Mediterranean) was created in 2007 under the patronage of the artisanal fishermen association of Cala Rajada. This study uses onboard observer data of the existing artisanal fisheries practices (métiers), their seasonality and spatial distribution of effort in the area before (2003–2007) and after (2008–2012) MPA designation, to illustrate how fishing restrictions and regulations have changed the structure and dynamics of local fishery métiers, with inshore fishing effort partially reallocated to offshore fishing grounds farther from port. Unforeseen effects of MPA restrictions concerned coastal artisanal métiers – impinging on the smaller boats and the oldest and most knowledgeable fishers – and the expansion of métiers that use newer boats and manned by younger, less experienced fishermen. Studies like this are needed to inform the design of future fisheries spatial management measures for Mediterranean artisanal fisheries that take into account foreseeable socio-economic outcomes and loss of knowledge.