Reinvestment of revenues from traditional fishing activities into habitat/species conservation: the case of Po river Delta Park fishing in Comacchio lagoon
The Comacchio lagoon is an extraordinary nursery habitat for juveniles of species of both commercial and conservation interest: eels, anchovies, shrimps and mullets. The lagoon ensures their growth and the possibility of total or partial return to the sea. Fishing activities in Comacchio lagoon are directly performed by the Po river Delta Park.
Particularly, eel fishing represents an important heritage of an ancient activity of local villagers and is yet carried out with traditional and extensive practices.
However, the Comacchio lagoon requires a continuous and expensive management of the several water gates by the Po river Delta Park: they have to be opened and closed, in order to allow species movement and to supply fresh and sea water for habitat and species conservation.
The incomes generated by fishing is reinvested by the Park in the environmental conservation and management of the lagoon, thus representing an implicit Payment for Ecosystem Service (PES) scheme which guarantees habitat and fishery conservation. Moreover, part of the catch is directly sold to local population, thus representing an additional identity cultural value.
This practice involves different stakeholders and beneficiaries. Fishing generates direct and indirect job positions for the local community. The Po river Park achieves the goal of conserving habitat and species, while maintaining traditional fishing practices and supporting tourism in the lagoon
The practice does not need any external financial resource; it is managed through internal staff, both seasonal and permanent (2 permanent workers are employed for fishing and management activities).
The total incomes generated by fishing activities in 2018 was 185,667 €.
Evidence of success
The monitoring activities demonstrated that the management of Comacchio lagoon was effective in conserving habitats and species. Habitat conservation also supported touristic access in the lagoon (including boat trips, birdwatching, bike tourisms and trekking), as well as educational activities (school visits). Fishing incomes had a slightly positive trend in the last years, demonstrating that the maintenance of nursery habitats is fundamental also for the conservation of commercial species
Potential for learning or transfer
Making Payment for Ecosystem Services (PES) explicit allows a better implementation of existing practices. Informing users and providers on the ecosystem services involved and clarify relative monetary flows will increase awareness on the fundamental contribution of natural capital of the deltaic areas to human well-being.
The practice can be easily exported to other cases where public and/or private actors implicitly trade ecosystem services
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