Capo Carbonara Marine Protected Area

Nature

Site characteristics

Capo Carbonara Marine Protected Area is located in the south-eastern portion of Sardinia. The area includes the coastline extending from Capo Boi, in the western sector within the Gulf of Cagliari, to Punta Is Proceddus at north-east; the two main rocky islands, Cavoli and Serpentara, are respectively the southernmost and easternmost portions of the coast. A number of rocky islets and submerged reefs are scattered all around the coast and main islands: Piscadeddus, S. Stefano, S. Caterina, S. Elmo, Berni are the most relevant.

The coastline is washed by both the Sardinian Channel and the Southern Tyrrhenian Sea and it has different degrees of exposure to winds and waves. The coastal morphology is irregular and articulated, with rocky granitic cliffs, blocks, boulders and pebbles alternated by large and small beach systems. A small, inland barrier lagoon (Notteri lagoon, about 34 ha), adjacent to the MPA and separated to the sea by a small sand barrier, is the most important wetland spot for migratory birds.

The landscape in the Capo Carbonara-Villasimius area is mostly dominated by the presence of morphological highs, where granite is the main lithology. These features are broadly observed all along the coast of the MPA, shaping the landscape with large portions of rocky coastline. Granite rocks are subjected to a characteristic alteration named hydrolysis and its derived morphologies (such as tors, inselberg, tafoni, split and caves), particularly in the main islands; it is also remarkable, due to the previously mentioned selective alteration of silicates, the occurrence of quartzo-felsphatic beaches and wide dune systems.

In the coastal area of interface between the continental and submerged environment, the main components of the geo-environmental system of beaches are: i) secondary dune systems, mainly stabilized with natural or artificial vegetation; ii) primary dune systems; iii) emerged beach areas; iv) wet systems of backshore and river mouth.

In the submerged area, several geo-environmental systems have been recognized by morpho-sedimentary features: i) wide submerged beaches, with quartzo-felsphatic sands, medium to fine granulometry; ii) sandy deposits mixed with rocky bottoms and extensive beach-rock formations at different depths (-27 m; -35 m, -45 m), with a locally high content of biogenic grains (rhodoliths and free melobesiae); iii) rocky bottoms corresponding to old terraces of abrasion colonized by marine vegetation; iv) rocky outcrops emerging from the seabed corresponding to surfaces generated by marine abrasion.

The presence of particular granitic morphologies (such as tors, inselberg, split and caves) as well as extensive Posidonia oceanica meadows on both sandy and rocky beds, increases the seascape value and offer a number of niches, hides, nest and nursery areas for marine flora and fauna. Due to the high level of habitat heterogeneity and complexity, fish abundance and species diversity are also significant.

In the terrestrial area adjacent to the MPA four main kind of vegetations can be recognized: i) psammophilic vegetation (e.g. Cakile maritima, Eryngium maritimum, Glaucium flavum, Agropyrum junceum) and halophytes tolerant salty or brackish waters (e.g. Salicornia spp, Phragmites spp.) behind the beach dune and around wet systems; ii) low Mediterranean scrublands (Limonium spp.) and shrub formations (Pistacia lentiscus, Arbustus unedo, Myrtus communis, Phyllirea spp., Juniperus spp., Asphodelus microcarpus, Cistus spp., Asparagus spp.), somewhere well structured, somewhere else in recovery after recent fire; iii) areas subject to agro-pastoral activities; iv) artificial vegetation prevailing in the inland neighbouring town of Villasimius and among the various existing tourist facilities (villages and resorts).

The main islands (Cavoli and Serpentara) are characterized by the presence of several endemisms or species with limited geographical ranges (Helicodiceros muscivorus, Limonium dictyocladum, Verbascum conocarpum, Urginea fugax, Brassica insularis). Noteworthy is the presence of the lichen Caloplaca rinodinae-albae, described for the first time at Cavoli Island (Nimis and Poelt, 1987) and for which the island is its "locus classicus".

The coastal area immediately adjacent to the sea as well as the main islands, Cavoli and Serpentara, are home for a number of terrestrial habitat and species that are relevant for conservation purposes; actually, these coastal areas are part of Special Protection Areas and Special Areas for Conservation of Natura 2000 Network. Although the MPA encompasses merely marine surface, these habitat and species, have been reported in the present document in the sections 3.2b and 3.4.

 

Site description

Because of its geographic position as well as the geological and geomorphological features, Capo Carbonara MPA has biological and ecological features considered critical for conservation purposes. Marine biodiversity and the number of habitat and species of conservation interest are impressive. Some of the most productive and rich in diversity biocoenosis of the Mediterranean Sea are present in the MPA: shallow Cystoseira belts (C. amentacea, C. crinita and C. compressa) and biogenic constructions (Lithophyllum spp. and vermetids) that indicate good status of water quality, according to Ballesteros et al. (2007); extensive Posidonia oceanica meadows with the lower limit close to the limit of the bathymetric distribution of the species; coralligenous assemblages and submerged caves widespread in the whole area; biogenic sediments with free corallinales (among them Phymatolithon calcareum and Lithothamnion corallioides that are included in the annex V of Habitat Directive, 92/43/EEC).

The gorgonians Eunicella cavolinii, Eunicella singularis and Paramuricea clavata, the coral Cladocora caespitosa, and the vermetids Dendropoma petraeum and Vermetus triquetrus are largely represented; they form facies that are included in the Draft Reference List of Habitat Types for the Selection of Sites to be included in the National Inventories of Natural Sites of Conservation Interest (Appendix B). Some seashells of genus Charonia have been reported even though is unknown the species they belong. The bivalve Spondylus gaederopus, included in the National Red Data List, is also found in the MPA.

Moreover, because of its geographic position, the MPA is an hotspot for thermophilic biota that is spreading northwards from other Mediterranean or extra-Mediterranean areas. Warm water affinity species have been recognized in the MPA: Thalassoma pavo, Sphyraena viridensis are quite abundant, Balistes carolinensis is commonly observed in one site of the MPA, while Sparisoma cretense has been reported occasionally; the rhodophyta Asparagopsis taxiformis has been recorded, with rare thalli, in few sites of the MPA. Among non indigenous species, the invasive chlorophyta Caulerpa racemosa var. cylindracea is noteworthy because of its potential detrimental effects on biodiversity and the consequent relevance for management of the area.

Cavoli and Serpentara islands and the coastal areas adjacent to the MPA are part of Special Protection Areas and Special Areas for Conservation of Natura 2000 Network. These areas are home to 21 endemic coastal flora and fauna species, in particular: 13 plants, including Brassica insularis that is also included in the annex II of Habitat Directive, 92/43/EEC; 6 coleoptera, 1 reptile (Podarcis tiliguerta) and 1 amphibian (Hyla sarda, also included in the annex IV of Habitat Directive, 92/43/EEC).

Moreover the coastal area and the main islands are home to 84 species: 2 plants (Rouya polygama and Ruscus aculeatus), 6 reptiles (Chalcides ocellatus, Coluber viridiflavus, Phyllodactylus europaeus, Podarcis siculus, Podarcis taurica, Testudo hermanni) and 1 chiropter (Myotis myotis), included in the annexes II, IV or V of Habitat Directive (92/43/ EEC); 77 bird species relevant to the conservation and management of the area, 47 of which are included in the annexes I, II or III of Birds Directive (79/409/EEC).

All this, in a relatively little disturbed area, makes the MPA a site of special interest for research

 

Conservation status

The ecological status of the water body in the MPA is high according to the classification proposed within the Water Framework Directive 60/2000 (Guala et al., 2009, www.sidimar.it). Benthic assemblages are generally well preserved: Posidonia oceanica meadows are among the most productive and deep in the whole region (AA.VV. 2002; Buia et al., 2005); only the shallow meadow and the barrier-reef meadow in S. Stefano Bay is fairly discontinuous probably because of physical damages, due to the presence of the harbour pier and anchoring and trampling during the summer. Coralligenuos biocoenosis and gorgonians are also widespread and well conserved in the whole area.

Fish fauna is quite abundant, diverse and very well preserved, particularly the populations of the dusky grouper (Epinephelus marginatus), corb (Sciaena umbra) and sparidae.

The high frequency of marine mammals and reptiles (Caretta caretta) testifies the good status of marine environment; it is noteworthy the sighting of a monk seal (Monachus monachus) in 2000 (Mo, 2000) and, very recently in 2011, three Balaenoptera physalus (Vacca, personal communication).

 

Vulnerability

Intensive human pressures have only been recorded during the summer season. Possible vulnerable ecosystems are: i) sandy beaches and dune due to the high tourist frequentation and the removal with heavy machines of beach-wrack made of Posidonia oceanica leaf litter (banquettes) ; ii) shallow Posidonia oceanica meadows as a consequence of anchoring, diving and trampling (particularly the barrier-reef structure in S. Stefano Bay); iii) coralligenous assemblages as consequence of mechanic damages (e.g. anchoring, diving activities and artisanal and recreational fisheries).

The mechanical damage caused by divers are strictly localized in some sites with a very small extension relative to the surface of the MPA. The high frequency of motor boats during the summer may discourage the presence of marine mammals (as a consequence of noise) and damage the sea turtle Caretta caretta (due to the impacts with the hulls and propellers).

The construction and development of the tourist harbour "Marina di Villasimius" has caused the erosion of nearby beaches and represents a potential source of water and sediment pollution due to the oil spill from recreational and commercial boats.

Fish abundance seems to be scarcely affected by recreational and commercial fisheries; rare cases of poaching (illegal fishing) have been reported.

Some ecosystems/habitat/species are potentially vulnerable to the impact of non indigenous species such as the chlorophyta Caulerpa racemosa var. cylindracea, very abundant everywhere, the crab Percnon gibbesi, also frequent in the upper rocky infralittoral, and the fish Fistularia commersonii, repeatedly caught by local fishermen. This is the why management plans foresee the monitoring of dynamics and spread of main invaders recorded within the MPA.

 

Site designation

The MPA is divided in three zones with different degree of protection: the Zone A (4% of the entire area) is the integral reserve (no-take, no-entry zone); the Zone B or general reserve (14%) is the buffer or restricted use zone; the Zone C or partial reserve (82%) is the multiple use management zones.

In 2010, the Special Area for Conservation designated as ITB040055 (Campu Longu) was included in the Special Area for Conservation ITB040020 (Isola dei Cavoli, Serpentara e Punta Molentis) which is currently referred as Isola dei Cavoli, Serpentara, Punta Molentis e Campulongu. In the section 5.2 data on this new proposed Special Area for Conservation are reported although it has to be confirmed yet

 

Site management and plans

The Capo Carbonara MPA includes four zones with different degree of protection:

A Zone: integral reserve. No-take area in the western sector of Serpentara Island. The boundaries of the no take zone are listed on the map. Only research scientific activities and SCUBA diving, along fixed trails in delimitated areas and under the regulation/permission of the Management Body, are allowed.

B Zone: general reserve. This zone includes four sites: the eastern sector of Serpentara Island, the rocky outcrop of Berni, the system Capo Carbonara - Cavoli Island, and the area in the south of Cavoli Island. The boundaries of each sub-areas are listed on the map. In this area, sailing up to 10 kn, SCUBA diving activities, bathing and mooring regulated by the Management Body are allowed. Small scale fisheries are allowed to professional fishermen resident in the municipality of Villasimius and to recreational fishermen, under the regulation of the Management Body.

C - D Zone: partial reserve – sperimental reserve. This zone corresponds to the remaining area of the marine reserve. In this area are allowed: sailing, regulated mooring, regulated SCUBA diving, regulated recreational fishing, professional fishing for fisherman resident in the town of Villasimius and for those not resident but licensed by the Management Body.

 

Rules

Rules of conduct in the Marine Protected Area "Capo Carbonara"

Zone A – Full Reserve - Marked by yellow buoys

Permitted activities:

  • Access to the Managing Authority' staff of the Marine Protected Area for maintenance, control, and to scientific personnel for authorized research activities;
  • Access of authorized guided scuba diving tours in restricted areas and only on approved routes, considering high environmental protection;
  • Rescue and supervisory control;
  • Service activities carried out on behalf of Managing Authority.

Forbidden activities:

  • Swimming;
  • Spearfishing, professional and sport fishing;
  • Boat cruising except for the patrol boats of the Marine Area’s guards or authorized.

In addition to what is indicated in the general rules (Ministerial Decree n° 60 emitted on February 7th, 2012 and Execution and Organization Regulation).

 

Zone B – General Reserve

All activities of Zone A are permitted.

In addition it is permitted:

  • Sailing and cruising with boats at low speed (not exceeding 10 knots);
  • Guided tours, including scuba diving authorized by the Managing Authority of the Marine Protected Area;
  • Swimming;
  • Free scuba diving without breathing apparatus in agreement with dispositions of the Managing Authority and with ordinances of Port Captaincy;
  • Mooring at suitable structures provided by the Managing Authority of the Marine Protected Area or compatibly with the necessities of seabed safeguard (sea and rocky bottoms);
  • Limited fishing for the professional fishermen resident in Villasimius Municipality by the data of entry into force of the Ministerial Decree n° 60 emitted on February 7th, 2012 with current procedure in Execution and Organization Regulation. Note that the fishing equipment must not damage the seabed (gillnet, fish trap and trammel net);
  • Sport fishing for residents or equivalent persons (second home owners, berth to the Lega Navale sezione di Villasimius, annual berth to the Marina di Villasimius), with technical and quantity provided for Execution and Organization Regulations;
  • Whale-watching activities according to Execution and Organization Regulations.

Forbidden Activities:

  • Spearfishing;
  • Free scuba diving, using Jet-Ski or similar, Waterskiing or similar.

In addition to what is indicated in the general rules (Ministerial Decree n° 60 emitted on February 7th, 2012 and Execution and Organization Regulation).

 

Zone C – Partial Reserve

All activities of Zone B are permitted.

In addition it is permitted:

  • Access to recreational boats;
  • Sailing and cruising with boats at low speed (not exceeding 10 knots);
  • Mooring at suitable structures provided by the Managing Authority of the Marine Protected Area, compatibly with the necessities of seabed safeguard (sea and rocky bottoms);
  • Limited fishing for the professional fishermen resident in Villasimius Municipality by the data of entry into force of the Ministerial Decree n° 60 emitted on February 7th, 2012 with current procedure into Execution and Organization Regulation. The fishing equipment allowed must not damage the seabed (gillnet, fish trap and trammel net);
  • Free scuba diving with or without breathing apparatus with prior permission;
  • Sport fishing for residents or equivalent persons (second home owners, berth to the Marina di Villasimius annual berth to the Marina di Villasimius), with technical and quantity provided for by Execution and Organization Regulations;
  • Whale-watching activities according to Execution and Organization Regulations.

Forbidden activities:

  • Spearfishing;
  • Using Jet-Ski and similar, waterskiing and similar.

In addition to what is indicated in the general rules (Ministerial Decree n° 60 emitted on February 7th, 2012 and Execution and Organization Regulation).

 

Zone D – Experimental Reserve

All activities of Zone C are permitted.

In addition it is permitted:

  • Sailing and cruising with boats at low speed (not exceeding 20 knots).

Forbidden activities:

  • Spearfishing;
  • Using Jet-Ski and similar, waterskiing and similar.

 

Source: www.ampcapocarbonara.it