Helping the local community through the preservation of marine resources

Hello, my name is Gabriele and I recently began my adventure as an IVY volunteer at the Interreg Project HARMONY Italy-Malta ( hosted by the Laboratory of Ecology ( at the University of Palermo (

I’ve graduated a month ago and the research experience in HARMONY is the first in a multi-task cross-border project.

The Strait of Sicily is one among the HARMONY focal areas, especially the area of Porto Palo di Capo Passero (Sicily) due to its proximity to Malta Island. A shared sea, in the middle of Mediterranean Sea, strongly influenced by human activities, particularly fishing. And there I’m focusing my modelling exercises; I’m trying to develop approaches and tools to inform common strategies to effectively manage the marine resources (seabed ecosystems and stocks) across this area. Results that, at the same time, will help the development of local communities that rely on goods and ecosystem services deriving from fishing and resources.

In a wider context HARMONY aims to develop harmonious monitoring measures between Italy and Malta to clarify the status of sea floor integrity and the inhabitating species and to evaluate the effects of habitat fragmentation and the diffusion of non-indigenous invasive species. Furthermore, the creation of a network between Italian and Maltese universities, research institutes and stakeholders, will offers the possibility to improve a sustainable development of human activities at sea and increase environmental sensitivity of policy makers at European, National and Regional level.

As a marine biologist, I’m very glad to take part in this project because it will offer me the opportunity to challenge and share my knowledge on spatial analysis and modelling; additionally, as an European citizen, I’m happy to contribute to stand out new policies and approaches that have a more ecologically point of view.

During this period of lockdown due to the coronavirus COVID-19, I’ve spent time working at my desk using several modelling and computing software and reading scientific papers, and I learned how to better represent data through maps and other informative tools that helps the dialogue between scientists and people (stakeholders, policy makers, end-users). I hope this experience will offer me the opportunity to learn more on science-based management measures to be used in co-management bottom up approach (stakeholder engagement) and off course next step is go at sea meet fishermen and start discussing my outcomes!

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