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Rating the effectiveness of fishery-regulated areas with AIS data

Tassetti, A.N., Ferrà, C., Fabi, G.
Ocean & coastal management 2019 v.175 pp. 90-97
coastal zone management, compliance, fishery resources, fishing boats, information processing, information sources, laws and regulations
The currently existing Biological Protection Areas (BPAs) are Italian conservation measures specifically oriented to preserve/recover commercial fish stocks through the regulation or ban of few fishing activities. Although BPAs have been well identified/designed within the Italian national waters, neither data on their effects on fishery resources nor on the fishers’ compliance with these no-take regulations are yet available.In this context, the present study was aimed to investigate how AIS data processing could be used to map patterns in fishing activity within/around small regulated areas and rate the effectiveness of the conservation measures in place. To do this, it was impossible not to address the issue surrounding well-known and substantial gaps in data coverage and attempt an estimate of them by flagging events when AIS had been switched off within/around BPAs.Results highlighted that almost all the BPAs are illegally trawled and that, unless additional legislation is effected to regulate the use of AIS by fishing vessels, it may provide a useful source of information to map fishing activities stated that the data are interpreted in an appropriate way.