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Conveying environmental information to fishers: a smartphone application on marine protected areas


Implementing marine protected areas (MPAs) is an important action to protect fish stocks and to integrate precautionary measures into fisheries management. Fishers’ attitude towards protected areas is often linked to the extent to which MPAs affect their activity. However, in the Italian context, there are additional challenges linked to the complex legislative background behind the establishment of MPAs and the difficult access to information. This situation makes it difficult for fishers to comply with the restrictions imposed in these areas and to understand their environmental value. This paper studies the development of a smartphone application aimed at conveying environmental information about MPAs to professional and non-professional fishers operating in Italy. The study reports the results of a three-step process: (i) systematization of the Italian legislation on MPAs and collection of key information on the features and rules of these areas; (ii) development of the mobile application; (iii) stakeholder consultation. The findings suggest that the use of a smartphone application can effectively improve the accessibility of information about MPAs to fishers, allowing them to navigate and interact via the smartphone. If well spread among professional and non-professional fishers, the use of this application has the potential to reduce the occurrence of MPA rule infringements and, what is more important, to increase fishers’ attention on the protection of these areas.

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Data availability

Data and materials of the study are available upon request.

Code availability

Data has been treated in Microsoft Excel, no software application or custom code is applicable for disclosure.


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The authors acknowledge the Federcoopesca organization for its collaboration with the research.


This work was supported by the Italian Ministry of Agricultural, Food and Forestry Policies (MIPAAF) (grant number (CUP): J59E19000390006).

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Correspondence to Clara Cicatiello.

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D’Ascenzo, F., Rocchi, A., Cerioni, S. et al. Conveying environmental information to fishers: a smartphone application on marine protected areas. J Environ Stud Sci 12, 453–465 (2022).

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  • Marine protected areas
  • Fisheries
  • Smartphone application
  • Fish stocks
  • Environmental policy