Sergio Sastre (ENT) has participated in an article led by Ben Tomlinson dealing with the effects of jellyfish on fisheries and tourism using a systemic approach for modeling the Catalan coast. This article is within the framework of the already completed European project VECTORS.
Despite the large fluctuation in annual recordings of gelatinous plankton along the Catalan coast in the north western Mediterranean and the lack of long term data sets, there is a general perception that jellyfish abundances are increasing. Local authorities are concerned about the stranding events and arrivals of jellyfish to beaches and believe it could reduce the recreational appeal of the beaches – a valuable ecosystem service for the regional tourist industry. Previous studies also demonstrate the predation of jellyfish (Pelagia noctiluca ephyrae) upon some small pelagic fish larvae (Engraulis encrasicolus). Small pelagics are the principal source of revenue for the local fisheries. A social-ecological model was created in order to capture the effects of changes in abundance of Pelagia noctiluca upon the local fisheries, the tourist industry and the wider economy. The following sub-models were constructed and connected following the systems approach framework methodology: an age-class based fisheries model; a jellyfish population matrix model; a jellyfish stranding model; a study on the impact of jellyfish strandings on beach users; and an economic input-output matrix. Various future scenarios for different abundances of jellyfish blooms were run. The “Expected blooms” scenario is similar to the quantity and size of blooms for 2000-2010. For a hypothetical “No blooms” scenario (standard background level of jellyfish but without any blooms) landings would increase by around 294 tonnes (5.1%) per year (averaged over 10 years) or approximately 0.19 M€ in profits per year (4.5 %), and strandings would decrease by 49%. In a “Frequent blooms” scenario, landings would decrease by around 147 tonnes per year (2.5%) and decrease profits by 0.10 M€ per year (2.3%), and strandings would increase by 32%. Given the changes that these scenarios would cause on the regional gross domestic product and employment, this study concludes that the overall impact of either of these scenarios on the economy would not be significant at the regional scale.