Marine Research Findings of the VECTORS Project

This website provides access to the research results of the VECTORS project, which can be used to support marine management decisions, policies and governance as well as future research and investment. VECTORS was a large scale project that brought together more than 200 expert researchers from 16 different countries. It examined the significant changes taking place in European seas, their causes, and the impacts they will have on society.

Ecology - economy interactions in Western Mediterranean fisheries

Sustainable management of fisheries must accommodate biological, social and economic objectives which are often in conflict. An ecosystem approach to fisheries (EAF) must seek to harmonise these objectives by devising management strategies that, among other, will ensure that fished populations are at safe levels and fishing is economically profitable. The current diagnosis is that 82% of EU Mediterranean fish stocks are overexploited, despite international commitments by the European Union of reaching Maximum Sustainable Yield (MSY). Simulation results show that the viability of the main Western Mediterranean fisheries is compromised and their management require a strong decrease in fishing capacity compared to 2010, the reference year, particularly for the trawl fleet. In addition to fishing effot reduction, it is recommended to work on changes to the selectivity patterns to decrease fishing mortality and delay the age at first capture.


A combined strategy is a more practical and efficient way to recover Mediterranean fish stocks than purely effort-reduction measures. In general, complying with international agreements imposing fishing at MSY will require strong fishing mortality reductions over a very short time frame.

Bioeconomic fisheries simulation modelling was used to assess the viability (in ecological and in economic terms) of Western Mediterranean fisheries. The simulation scenarios were based on effort reduction measures defined in international forums (Mediterranean working group of the Scientific, Technical and Economic Commission for Fisheries, General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean) over the period 2010-2020. The results show that continuing with current effort levels (Scenario 0) result in viable fisheries in less than 50% of the stochastic simulations. A drastic reduction of fishing effort to produce fishing mortalities consistent with MSY (Scenario 1) ensures fisheries viability in 91% of the cases for the purse seine fishery and 87% for the bottom trawl fishery. Other alternative scenarios (Scenarios 2-4) with progressive reduction of fishing mortality, result in viable fisheries in less than 70% of cases.

Lead Author:

Francesc Maynou
Agrocampus Ouest (AGRO)
Date of research: July 2014

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Modelling fishing fleets competing for quota

Modelling fishing fleets competing for space

Population dynamics of sprat in the Baltic Sea 

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This project has received funding from the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme for research, technological development and demonstration under grant agreement no 266445
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