Spatial and temporal Adaptation of a traditional Mediterranean fishery facing Regional Change: COmbining history and ecoLogy to study past, prEsent and future of sponge harvesting (SACOLEVE)


Spatial and temporal Adaptation of a traditional Mediterranean fishery facing Regional Change: COmbining history and ecoLogy to study past, prEsent and future of sponge harvesting (SACOLEVE)


The production of Mediterranean bath sponges collapsed during the past century as it is shown by Tunisian catches
which went from 163 tons in 1920 down to 9 tons in 1988 (Josupeit, 1990). Another illustration is given by the
well-known sponge fishing island of Kalymnos which lost about 90% of its active fishermen population in a century
between 1858 and 1967 (Bernard 1967, Valla, 2012). For what reasons a Mediterranean traditional fishery once
prosperous did dramatically decline? What part of the decline can be attributed to the decline of the bath sponge stock
and what to a decreasing number of fishermen? How can this decline of the sponge fishery be related to changes in
uses, overfishing, disease outbreaks triggered by climate events? How did sponge fishermen adapt to these Regional
Changes in the past? What is the future of such a fishery? What kind of guidelines can we provide for this fishery facing
the on-going Regional Change? To answer these questions, we will look through ecological and historical
windows into past evolution of the sponge fishery, chosen here as a model of traditional fishery which suffered good
number of upheavals over the last three centuries. The overreaching aim is to propose a management
strategy for traditional fisheries that will allow attaining eco-durable practices in the current environmental,
socio-economic and geopolitical contexts.