This is a research and development programme incorporating two separate government-funded contracts on researching fish assemblages to improve ecological quality assessment procedures to meet the needs of the Water Framework Directive (WFD) in Cyprus.
The WFD utilizes fish assemblages as biological quality elements (BQE) in running waters (rivers and streams) and these have never before been researched for this use in Cyprus. Due to the island’s species-poor and impoverished native fish fauna, and the prevalence of non-indigenous fish, the Republic of Cyprus considers that it is not possible to base any type of ecological quality monitoring on fish species only. Consequently, “fish” as WFD Biological Quality Elements are not monitored on the island. In this project we investigated and challanged this statement and the utilization of fish in assessment and monitoring procedures with scientific substantiation, as required by the European Commission.
This project comprised the following attributes: A) The collection of information and data on fish populations in Cyprus rivers, including an in-depth review of historical occurrence of fish in rivers; and, a systematic sampling survey (using electrofishing and seine netting techniques) focusing on 31 river catchments in the Republic of Cyprus; B) The organisation of the collected sampled ichthyological and environmental data in a geo-referenced data-base within a Geographic Information System; C) The presentation and systemization of the information and data in reports including the drafting of the official Cyprus WFD Intercallibration report on fishes in rivers; D) The application of selected biological assessment methods to the collected samples and the evaluation of the results from the applied assessment methods; E) The formulation of conclusions and recommendations regarding the applicability of the BQE “fish” in Cyprus rivers for the assessment of their ecological status within the WFD application. The project promoted the use of fishes as a supplementary biotic element especially in selected river basins that host native and naturalized species sensitive to hydromorphological anthropogenic impacts. Specific proposals for further research and development are made.
The project work involved two contracts funded by the Water Development Department of the Ministry of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Environment, Republic of Cyprus. This project is undertaken within an collaboration between two research centres (contractor-subcontractor relationship). The Institute of Inland Waters, Hellenic Center for Marine Waters (HCMR) undertook overall management of the project, coordinated all field surveys and reporting activities, while the Instituto Superior de Agronomia, Universidade Técnica de Lisboa (ISA-UTL) acted as subcontractor, providing support on research design, data analyses and interpretation.