Creating Marine Protected Areas to Preserve the Aeolian Archipelago


The Aeolian archipelago, north of Sicily, is under pressure from increasing tourism, vessel mooring, over-fishing and habitat degradation that threaten its natural and cultural heritage.

Unregulated illegal fishing, using destructive techniques such as ‘drift-netting’ and ‘bottom dredging’ removes large, predatory fish from the food chain and destroys marine habitats. ‘Ghost nets’ (nets that have been lost or left in the ocean by fishing vessels), entangle bottlenose dolphins, loggerhead turtles and sperm whales, species that once thrived in Aeolian waters.

AIPF, in collaboration with BLUE Marine, is focused on marine protection across the archipelago. Applying a network of marine protected areas on a regional scale will help preserve biodiversity, stimulate the artisanal fishing industry and promote sustainable tourism through:

  • Coastal preservation: Construction regulation, vessel regulation, pollution monitoring/regulation and tourism best practice;
  • Monitoring and protection of fish stocks and endangered marine species;
  • Safeguarding significant habitats such as Poseidonia sea-grass beds and the biodiversity that they support;
  • Enhancing fish reproduction through site-specific protection/zoning;
  • Securing the future of a local, sustainable fishing industry through increasing enforcement capacity.

Partners of the Program In Aeolian Islands are

  • Filicudi Wildlife Conservation: Conservation of the Bottlenose Dolphin and Loggerhead Turtle

The project of FWC focuses on the assessment of bottlenose dolphin populations, identification of local feeding grounds and the mapping of breeding, feeding and resting areas. Evaluating the risk and interaction level with human activities (fishing/tourism) and ensuring the use of best practice will be addressed. An action plan will be developed for whale, dolphin and turtle conservation in the area. This research will result in the creation of maps of habitat suitability for key species.

  • Giulia Bernardi: Salina Island Marine Survey

PhD candidate, Giulia Bernardi will collect baseline scientific information for MPA designation. The study will assess the status of fish aggregations and provide a comprehensive report on the artisanal fisheries in the Aeolians. Posidonia meadows will be characterised and mapped and underwater video surveys will identify and map key benthic habitats including rocky sea bottoms and reefs. A survey of fish community structure, in terms of species richness, abundance and biomass, around the island of Salina will be completed. This is necessary to inform zoning of any proposed protected areas.

  • Marevivo: Dolphins – Guardians of Islands

Marevivo is raising awareness of environmental issues among young people in the Aeolian Islands through community awareness initiatives and the production and distribution of educational materials. A new generation will be equipped with the knowledge and awareness to better manage their land and sea, This community awareness initiative is crucial for the long-term success and sustainability of the marine reserves.


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for info about the program, please write to