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An overview of the history, knowledge, recent and future research trends in Mediterranean fisheries
Henri Farrugio, Pere Oliver, Franco Biagi

The Mediterranean Sea is an area which has a longlived oceanographic tradition. Since the remote antiquity, it has been the object of observations and descriptions in which maritime activities and fishing hold a paramount place. This paper presents a synthetic view on the history of the fisheries research and its evolution in the area. The very rich mediterranean fauna and the highly multispecific nature of the catches certainly favoured the fact that the first works were mainly oriented towards attempts of exhaustive descriptions of the vital cycles and biological parameters of a given species. The passage from marine biology sensu-strict0 to fisheries research is relatively recent in the Mediterranean; the first attempts to apply some mathematical population dynamics models to the exploited stocks were realized in France and Spain in the last sixties. Most of these analyses used the "global production models" which come out to be quite disappointing when applied in the area. Several mediterranean work programmes are now oriented towards the use of "direct evaluations" and "analytical" methods of modelling of the exploited stocks. Quantitatively, the mediterranean state of knowledge about fisheries is not far from what we can find in many atlantic european fishing grounds. A recent innovation in the research about mediterranean fishing is to take in account the activity of the "small-scale" fleets and their interactions with other types of fisheries. Catch and effort statistics remain a weak point, as the official statistical data are still often very far from reflecting the reality. To avoid this situation, the latest works in the area have consisted in perfecting sampling and assessment strategies. There is also an increasingly generalized awareness of the socio-economic importance of fishing, and of the fact that the effects of the anthropic coastal activities should be taken into account, as at a mundial level there is a general tendency to redirect the target of the fisheries science from ressources to entire ecosystems equilibriums. The success of this evolution will depend mostly on a new wave of investment in a multidisciplinary fundamental research which might lead to a new start in the evolutive dynamics of the finalised research depending on it. So the growing interest in semi-industrial and small-scale fisheries which is expressed today at an international level can make mediterranean fisheries research a valuable model.

Keywords: Mediterranean, fisheries science, history, research trends.
Contents of this volume Sci. Mar. 57(2-3) : 105-119 Back PDF
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