Project duration: 04/2022 – 12/2022
Biological pollution ranks as the third greatest threat to biodiversity in the marine environment and is responsible for the loss of biodiversity and ecosystem services. Among marine ecosystems altered by invasion, the Eastern Mediterranean Sea underwent the most intense and exceptionally rapid changes globally, fostered by climatic changes and other anthropogenic drivers. Despite the ecological consequences, Invasive Alien Species (IAS) have an economic affect in the local communities with impacts on commercial fisheries and tourism, as some of the species are venomous and poisonous. In addition, non-indigenous species have low value and are usually discarded by fishers.
The project aims to turn the public towards the control and consumption of marine IAS by utilizing a market-based approach to inform, educate, and strategically build incentives for the sustainable reform of local fisheries. The project aims to challenge traditional narratives and motivate the public and fishers to target non-indigenous species instead of high trophic native species, support the development of supply chains that will benefit the local economies, promote the sustainable seafood consumption and sustainable fishery and build incentives to achieve frequent and large removals of alien species on a financially sustainable basis for fisheries.
- Two targeted removals of invasive species with free divers of Cyprus.
- One gastronomy event for bringing awareness about the alien species in the region and on responsible consumption of seafood. During the gastronomy part participants will have the chance to taste them for the first time.
- Development and sharing of existing educational and dissemination material about the impact of IAS, the promotion of their consumption (cooking recipes for IAS) and awareness on Citizen Science tools and the ways citizens can report observations for monitoring IAS and other species.
- A social and mass media market campaign for the promotion of the market consumption of alien species.
- One cooking seminar with alien species for chefs, restaurants and chef schools.
- April 2022: A press release bringing awareness on the project’s significance
- June 2022: Alliance with EU’s #tastetheocean campaign and Lion Fish recipes by Cypriot Chef Stavros Georgiou
- July 2022: Cooking seminars for chefs at City Unity College. Invite poster, and press release.
- July 2022: Cooking seminar for chefs presentation.
- July 2022: Alien Fish recipes in Greek and English.
- July 2022: Alien Fish information in Greek.
- September 2022: Alien fish pop-up event press release with Harmony by the Sea restaurant at Steno restaurant in Limassol in Greek and English.
- November 2022: Culinary event poster for alien fish tasting at Zygi Marina.
- November 2022: Culinary event press release for alien fish tasting at Zygi Marina.
A bit about the organizations
Marine & Environmental Research (MER) Lab, the leading organization of this project, is an environmental organisation composed by marine biologists, environmental biologists, and educators who specialize in the provision of services that relate to the marine environment, fisheries and aquaculture. MER has been working closely with local stakeholders of the sectors for the past decades implementing numerous research projects and guiding public bodies. MER has implemented numerous projects related to alien species including monitoring surveys in marine protected areas, social surveys with relevant stakeholders, and policy-oriented projects to guide cost-effective management. MER was the scientific coordinator of RELIONMED, a four-year LIFE Nature and Biodiversity project, which aimed to REmove LIONfish from the MEDiterranean. The project aimed to demonstrate the effectiveness of existing practices to tackle marine Invasive Alien Species (IAS) by setting up a line of defence against the lionfish invasion through early detection, rapid response, and effective management of marine coastal habitats off Cyprus.
iSea, the supporting partner on this action, is an Environmental Organization founded in 2016 in Thessaloniki, Greece. iSea’s goal is to preserve the aquatic habitats, including the fauna and flora, which inhabit them through research, raising awareness and the promotion of conservation policies. iSea has carried out a range of projects including the project “Pick the alien”, which raised awareness on alien species in Greece and the consequences of their presence on the local economy, tourism, indigenous species, and environment, and human health. An effort was also made to promote the consumption of edible alien species as a mitigation measure to their expansion and the growth of their population.