Session 1: Marine Conservation

Maintaining the health of the marine environment and biodiversity requires sufficient understanding of biological and ecological processes but most importantly taking proper action at the right place and time by protecting marine habitats, properly setting and enforcing laws and regulations as well as enhancing environmental education. Species loss and habitat degradation are happening in an unprecedented manner with marine conservation efforts proving for the moment to be insufficient to moderate the decline. This session will focus on the critical subject of marine conservation aiming to cover topics such as, (i) research and/or actions on vulnerable habitats and species, (ii) threats (e.g., climate change) including anthropogenic impacts (e.g., overfishing, invasive/alien species, ocean pollution and marine litter), (iii) restoration activities, (iv) advocacy and governance, (v) sustainable development, (vi) marine cultural heritage, (vii) environmental awareness and ocean literacy 

Session 2: Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) in the Mediterranean

The marine environment faces a number of threats including overfishing, litter, pollution, global climate change and unsustainable development. Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) are established mainly to protect important marine habitats and species, and to ensure the sustainable use of resources. Networks of marine protected areas should be able to utilize tools to address all the important and ongoing pressures and consider a significant representation of all marine and coastal habitats. In this regard, effective management actions can potentially contribute to mitigating loss of species and degradation of habitats, increase the biomass of commercially exploited species through “spill-over” effects, and overall increase ecosystem resilience in the face of biological invasions, climate change, and other global issues. The majority of marine protected areas are not subjected to proper management and cannot be assessed in terms of coherence and effectiveness. This session will focus primarily on the most important issues regarding the management of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) along with other spatial protection actions that form holistic and comprehensive networks. The suggested topics for this session are: (i) effective management of marine protected areas, (ii) major threats and global issues, (iii) novel tools and methodologies for monitoring and surveillance, (iv) evaluation of ecosystem goods and services.

Session 3: Fisheries & Aquaculture

With a growing human population at a global level, fish stocks declining and a rising necessity for animal-based protein sourced from capture fisheries & aquaculture; further sustainability in both sectors is urgent and imminent. This session will focus on the current status, trends and advancements of fisheries & aquaculture and the contemporary challenges faced in the respective sectors. A wide range of subjects, tools and actions are needed to support increments in sustainability and to incorporate fisheries & aquaculture further into a circular economy.

Setting as a priority to ensure the future sustainability of fisheries resources and aquaculture, the following topics are suggested: (i) sustainable management of capture fisheries, (ii) mitigation of vulnerable species by-catch and discards, (iii) recent advancements and innovative solutions for sustainable aquaculture (i.e. systems technology, alternative feed sources/diet formulation, reproduction, species diversification, disease management), (iv) the future of aquaculture research (priorities – what should aquaculture research be focused on), (v) how to promote and implement circular economy principles in aquaculture.

Session 4: Oceanography: from measurements to models

Understanding the ocean and its importance in the Earth system is imperative so that we can manage, conserve, and use ocean resources in a more sustainable way. This session will focus on advances in oceanography, highlight the importance of marine environmental monitoring and modelling, and emphasize the challenging areas faced by the oceanographic community. Aiming to cover a broad range of themes to help the audience understand the current research, practical tools and applications, and challenges in the science of oceanography, the following topics are suggested: (i) ocean data collection and management, (ii) operational oceanography, (iii) numerical modeling of the ocean, (iv) marine pollution and management, (v) ocean resources.

Session 5: Climate change impacts

The urgency of addressing the effects of this global environmental issue is more evident in the Mediterranean region as recent findings conclude that the Mediterranean basin is more vulnerable to an increase in temperature and salinity as well as forecasted extreme events (e.g., intensive storms), with varying consequences on the aquatic ecosystems by the end of the century. This session aims to highlight the important challenges and try to recommend mitigation measures and strategies that can potentially be implemented. The session will focus primarily on the potential effects of climate change on marine and coastal ecosystems targeting the following suggested topics: (i) effects of climate change on biological invasions, (ii) impacts on priority and/or vulnerable habitats, (iii) experimental designs and monitoring surveys of endangered and/or threatened species, (iv) species distributions under climate change and (v) ecological modeling and other novel computational tools for assessing the potential effects of numerous climate change scenarios on marine and coastal ecosystems.