The lack of knowledge regarding the distribution of coralligenous habitats, along with increased anthropogenic pressures (e.g. trawling, pollution, global warming), threatens these slow-growing reefs (<1 mm / year), some of which have existed for over 7000 years. Trawling bans defined by the EU and international law are not enforced in most of the Mediterranean, due to a lack of relevant geospatial data detailing the location of these fragile biotopes. Mapping and monitoring coralligenous habitats is thus essential for the enforcement of the laws that are in place to protect these biodiversity hotspots.
This project will develop a method using multiple technologies (multibeam, biomass scanner, ROV, CTDs) to assess the distribution and ecological status of coralligenous reefs. The method will be tested during a research expedition in the Aegean Sea in the region of a known but unstudied coralligenous hotspot: the Greek island Fourni. With the active engagement of local fishermen, this will fill knowledge gaps in relation to the ecological conditions and anthropogenic pressures on these key habitats.