Islands are often seen as small-scale laboratories for global issues, but also as excellent pilots for innovation. Fishermen on the Mediterranean island of Pantelleria, located between Tunisia and Sicily, are facing a year-on-year decline in their fishing yields. Why ? The combined pressures of high levels of summer yachting and traditional fishing, which has had a growing impact on coastal habitats as it has become more commercial. When posidonia meadows are uprooted, sandy bottoms destructured, and rocky bottoms scraped, marine life is deprived of support, and the food and economic security of populations is called into question.
The state of degradation is such that marine ecosystems are also losing resilience in the face of climate change and invasive species: active restoration of key habitats has become a necessity. An interdisciplinary consortium of fishermen, local residents and researchers will collectively reinstall the engineer species that guarantee the structure and functionality of the ecosystem. 300 posidonia plants (essential nursery and carbon sink, in particular), 100 sponge fragments (water purification and filtration, promotes links with the pelagic environment), and 500 gorgonian cuttings (densification of the habitat through bushes, life support for erect fauna).
Field surveys to reconstruct the history of lost biodiversity will serve as a basis for defining restoration objectives, while maximizing ownership of the project by the island’s inhabitants. The ‘before/after’ use of 3D photogrammetry, a cutting-edge imaging technique, will help convince the last undecided of the return of marine life. Thanks to these arguments, institutional levers will be activated to enable the island to complete its technical and economic transition towards sustainably managed fishing, and diversification towards non-extractive activities such as ecotourism.