2017.10.01 – 2020.09.30
Rosa Fernandez, Spain
Centro Tecnológico del Mar, Fundación CETMAR · ES
Consellería do Mar, Xunta de Galicia · ES
Universidade de Santiago de Compostela · ES
Université de Bordeux · FR
University College Cork · IE
Bangor University · UK
NERC Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, Bangor · UK
Groupe d’Etude des Milieux Estuariens et Littoraux · FR
Instituto Português do Mar e da Atmosfera, I.P. · PT
Universidade de Aveiro · PT
Faculdade de Ciências da Universidade de Lisboa · PT
Université de Caen Normandie · FR
4045 | Freepick.com
Improving the protection of biodiversity and ecosystems services.
Cockles provide meaningful environmental, societal, cultural as well as economic benefits to coastal communities in ES, PT, FR, IE, and UK, but are threatened by disease and sub-optimal management. This project will restore and increase cockle production and the services it provides in the Atlantic Area, using the following objectives:
» To assess the health, diversity and interrelationships of cockle populations across the AA by characterizing population dynamics, genetic diversity and larval transport, threats from disease, pollution, invasive species and climate;
» To quantify the wider economic, societal and cultural benefits from ecosystem services provided by cockles (fishery, aquaculture, biodiversity, food for birds, tourism, cultural services), by surveys, interviews and socio-economic analysis;
» To provide new techniques for cockle management by developing new technology and procedures for cockle bed restoration, hatchery technology for seed production, selective breeding programmes to produce disease-resistant and fast growing strains, and conservation of genetic structure/diversity;
» To provide guidance on best practice for producers, administrations, environmental agencies, and NGOs, by evaluating and sharing best practice across the AA and optimizing management through mutual learning. This will result in improved cockle production, a strong, viable and sustainable industry, with recognized societal and biodiversity benefits.
Cockles suffer from periodic mass mortalities with severe effects on natural stocks. The frequency and intensity of such episodes have significantly increased in the last 50 years, especially for the most valued native species, Cerastoderma edule.
Mortality for this species has been dramatic in the last decade due to devastating effects of emergent diseases. Overfishing, inefficient management and worse environmental conditions have also led to dramatic production declines throughout the AA. Despite this, Europe produces # 800K tn. of molluscs/year, representing a turnover of 1,100M€ and about 37K direct employments, representing 50% of global EU aquaculture production. Clams and cockles production in EU-28 reached 30KT, with a value of 174M€ in 2013 (Eurostat), with AA countries among the major producer communities.
Cockles are considered a delicacy of the Atlantic gastronomy and an asset for tourism. From a social perspective, cockles are traditionally exploited by small associations often with high rates of female employment. In terms of protection areas cockle is a key-species, for many top predators (finfish, waders).
The decline of production threats equilibrium of the global food-web in coastal environments. Mass mortalities and declining stocks have already resulted in economic and ecological losses. This has severe consequences for the social structure of coastal communities, and for the wider ecosystem services and societal benefits provided by cockles.