Fishers' knowledge detects ecological decay in the Mediterranean Sea

Benedetta Veneroni* (Corresponding Author), Paul Fernandes

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)
11 Downloads (Pure)


The Northern Adriatic Sea (NAS) is one of the most overexploited marine ecosystems in Europe. Given the gaps in scientific knowledge regarding the NAS, this study sought Fishers’ Ecological Knowledge (FEK) to determine NAS’ historical baselines for conservation. By interviewing 53 fishers in three ports of northern Italy, estimates of the catch rates of four commercial demersal species were generated over a 60-year period, and perceptions of target and non-target species’ diversity and benthic diversity were analysed in three groups of fishers (i.e. novices, experienced and veterans). Results showed a significant decline in perceived abundance of sole (Solea solea), common cuttlefish (Sepia officinalis) and mantis shrimp (Squilla mantis), and evidence was found of a Shifting Baseline Syndrome (SBS) among novices. Given FEK’s ability to complement scientific knowledge, fishers’ participation in marine management policies and intergenerational communication should be enhanced, to improve the status of marine ecosystems and hinder SBS.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1159-1171
Number of pages13
Early online date16 Jan 2021
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2021

Bibliographical note

We thank all the fishermen that have participated in the interviews, who have given their time and shared their knowledge. We particularly acknowledge Nevio Torresi and Tomas Parenti for acting as cultural brokers. Finally, we thank Attilio Rinaldi and Giuseppe Prioli whose interest for our research and knowledge of the local fisheries has been particularly welcomed.


  • Biodiversity
  • Fisheries
  • Local ecological knowledge
  • Mediterranean
  • Shifting baseline syndrome
  • Trawling


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