Essential Fish Habitats

Essential Fish Habitats

Coral gardens, kelp forest sponge beds, sea grass, meadows or submarine canyons often represent Essential Fish Habitats (EFH) as they are essential for the survival of fish.

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Case Study: Protection of Essential Fish Habitats in the Strait of Sicily. 

In 2016, during one of its expeditions, Oceana documented bottom trawling footprints in the Strait of Sicily (an area in the Mediterranean Sea that is shared by Italy, Malta, and Tunisia) in areas crucial for the reproduction of important commercial species, such as the overfished European hake and deep-water rose shrimp, which are among the most overfished stocks in the region.

Up to 50% of the hake caught in the Strait of Sicily is undersized, which means these fish will never have a chance to reproduce. With the aim of recovering the totally overfished stock, Oceana calls for urgent protection of the relevant EFHs for this species. Following Oceana’s proposal submitted in 2015, today, three nursery areas for hake and deep-water rose shrimp in the Strait of Sicily are totally closed to bottom fish trawling.

First step

This is just the first step on the way to rebuild the most overfished species in the Mediterranean and provides an opportunity for “baby” hake, to grow and reproduce. Our proposal has been seen as the most appropriate measure so far for hake to recover and has also been backed by the fishing sector operating in the Strait of Sicily.

Oceana has been working the need for marine protected areas (MPAs) in the Mediterranean for many years.






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