“Egadi Islands” Marine Protected Area
The “Egadi Islands” Marine Protected Area includes the waters, seabed and coastline surrounding the homonymous archipelago, located in front of the west coast of Sicily. It consists of the islands of Favignana, Levanzo and Marettimo and the islets of Formica and Maraone. With its 53,992 hectares, it is the largest marine reserve in Europe, coinciding with the SCI ITA010024 "Seabed archipelago of the Egadi Islands archipelago " which is the largest marine SCI in the Mediterranean sea.
The coasts and seabed are characterized by high variability of habitat and consequent high biodiversity, with the presence of many species of great naturalistic interest and important underwater archaeological finds: there is the prairie of Posidonia oceanica most extensive and best preserved in the Mediterranean, tens of miles of sidewalks at Vermetids, 76 dive sites in areas characterized by coral reefs or underwater and semi-submerged caves, and many snorkeling tours. All the flora and fauna of the Mediterranean is present into the Egadi MPA. Among the protected animal species, we mention the monk seal (Monachus monachus), the sea turtle Carettacaretta, the bivalve Pinnanobilis, various species of cetaceans (bottlenose dolphins, striped dolphins and sperm whales), some species of sharks and a large colony of storms Bird (Hydrobates pelagicus), as well as hundreds of species of fishes.
The Marine Protected Area was established by Ministerial Decree of 21/12/1991, and since 2001 it is managed by the Municipality of Favignana on behalf of the Italian Ministry for the Environment, Land and Sea. It is a member of Federparchi (Europarc Federation) and the network MEDPAN. It has a website (www.ampisoleegadi.it) and a Facebook page constantly updated, as well as a web portal for online authorizations.
The institutional mission is protection and enhancement of the marine environment, environmental education, awareness and information of users, research and monitoring, integrated coastal management and promotion of sustainable development, with particular reference to eco-friendly tourism.
We list the main projects carried out by AMP:
- the placement of antitrawling deterrents, to reduce illegal trawling along the coast that disturbs the seabed and impoverishes fish stocks;
- the establishment of mooring fields in the three islands, to prevent damage to the seabed by anchors of boats, but providing the opportunity to stay in the most beautiful bays;
- the monitoring project "Guardians of the sea", with the involvement of local fishermen;
- the brand for the environmental certification of tourist services (accommodation, restoration, rental, sightseeing tours, passenger transport, fish-tourism, scuba-diving);
- The Monk Seal Observatory in the Punta Troia Castle of Marettimo, also used as a visitor centre;
- research and monitoring projects with scientific and research institutions, such as ENEA, ISPRA and Palermo University;
- prevention and control at sea, with five ships operating every day in the summer, and a guide service onboard transport passengers motorboats;
- the creation of a first aid Centre for Sea Turtles in Favignana, as a result of an agreement signed with the WWF and Legambiente associations;
- a remote monitoring project, called "SIGAMP", for the control of environmental and socio-economic data, managed by a web-gis designed ad hoc, funded by the Italian Telecom Foundation;
- the "PON Security" project, for the positioning of surveillance cameras in all the islands.
The "Egadi Islands" Marine Protected Area in recent years has initiated a process of management, monitoring and control of the territory based on participation and sharing of local stakeholders.