There is a large amount of data available for EAF in the Mediterranean and Black Seas, but of varying quality and not easily exploitable in EAF. The time series may be discontinued at some locations and the formats range from paper to structured databases. There is no scientific institution in the Mediterranean or Black Seas gathering all the data needed for EAF.

The possibilities to use SeaDataNet for abiotic parameters should be further investigated. Fleet and fisheries statistics are compiled through GFCM Task 1 and, although still incomplete, are available on the GFCM public website. Status of marine resources and level of fishing pressures are provided by FAO sub-regional projects, agreed and validated in GFCM and EU/STECF relevant working groups. Fishermen's awareness should be undertaken on the ongoing initiatives for a better quantification of by-catches of vulnerable species.

Scientific surveys are an important means to collect biological information and habitat description, but the addition of all surveys in a given year never encompasses the whole Mediterranean and Black Sea area. Biological information and habitat description are predominantly in published documents. Whether the original samples are available for computing or not will have to be investigated if this information is required, or an area-based overview will need to be compiled. The occurrence and spatial distribution of non-indigenous species is also available in published documents.

Economics information is often considered as confidential and is difficult to gather and share for analysis. The Mediterranean and Black Sea are no exception to this rule, and very few partners reported economic data, and when available, it was only in aggregated form. Similarly, pollution and contaminants were scarcely reported, but some EU projects are under way and may lead to progress in this field of knowledge.

Spatial planning is an essential tool for management in an EAF, and a comprehensive overview of existing marine protected areas in the Mediterranean is available within the MedPAN network. The EU project MESMA (2009-2013) ( conducted research on integrated management plans for designating or proposing sites. Their approach will make it possible to compare pressures on an inter-regional level (e.g. Offshore wind farms in the North Sea, Black Sea and Baltic), or a multi-pressure level for a specific region (e.g. Spatially Managed Areas in Fishing, Wind-energy, Geo-hazards and Tourism in the Central Mediterranean or the Black Sea).

Considering quality issues, there is no doubt that the data collected by all CREAM partners is the best available, and that it is predominantly validated and reliable. They are often incomplete or discontinued, they are scattered in terms of geographical dimension and scientific surveys all together do not cover the whole Mediterranean and Black Sea.

Standard outputs and aggregated information are generally available to the public, whereas original datasets have restricted access. Data is often stored in Excel format which may lead to difficulties for sharing and exploiting the information. Data collection protocols are difficult to find or are inexistent. Only national protocols are referred to, and agreements on regional data collection protocols would be welcome.

When formulating an EAF management plan, lack of data or uncertainty about the impact of the fishery should not be used as an argument for delaying the plan (FAO guidelines for an EAF). Given the uncertainties associated with the lack of knowledge, data, and understanding about the ocean and living marine resources, the precautionary approach is a fundamental and inextricable feature of implementing EAF (Meltzer, 2009).


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