Global Scientia – issue 3

fondazione IMC

The Foundation IMC

imc marine centreThe Foundation IMC – International Marine Centre is a research centre located in Torregrande, the beach of the town of Oristano, in the west coast of Sardinia, operating since 1988 in the study and valorisation of marine and coastal ecosystems. After a long work for the economic upturn and the re-launch of the scientific role of the Centre, in the end of the 2012 it has became a local pole of Polaris, the Science and Technology Park of Sardinia. This is an important result for the IMC itself and an important occasion for the socioeconomic development of the territory. An important role in this new cycle has been played by the municipality of Oristano, charter member of the Foundation, and the new partner  Sardegna Ricerche, the regional agency for the promotion of research and technology transfer and the development of a knowledge-based local economy. The mission of the IMC is to promote the raising of environmental awareness concerning the protection of the sea and sustainable management of marine  resources by means of the diffusion of knowledge on the functioning of marine and coastal ecosystems, the impacts of human activity on the marine environment and the suggestion of the best practices for the management of coastal areas.

imc centro marinoThe Centre mainly focuses its activity on the Sardinian territory and in the Mediterranean basin, with the aim to contribute to the sustainable development in the Mediterranean environment, encourage the cooperation with developing countries, support the technological development and the dissemination of innovation, at local and international level. The premises cover 2,300 m2 and include research laboratories, wet labs, aquaria, a library, office space and meeting rooms.

The strategic approach is based on ‘research for sustainable development in coastal areas’, i.e. activate new concepts and methodologies to be applied for the protection and management of marine and coastal ecosystems, aiming at promoting the sustainable use of natural resources in the Mediterranean Sea. In particular, research focuses on the marine environment and its biodiversity, the aquatic species and their interactions with the environment, as well as the sustainable exploitation of bio-resources  for local development. The IMC expertise and field of activity is focused on studies of coastal ecosystem, monitoring and assessment of human impact on marine and coastal areas, performance of MPAs and coastal zone management, field and laboratory studies of  benthic macrophytes (both seagrasses and seaweeds), fish and sea urchin’s biology and ecology, geomorphologic and  sedimentological surveys.

Dr Paolo Mossone

Fondation IMC – International Marine Centre

Torregrande, Loc. Sa Mardini – 09170 – Oristano (Italy)

Phone (+39) 0783 22027 /22032 – Fax (+39) 0783 22002


Main Research Activities

imc subThe IMC scientists have been involved in European and national researches and transnational cooperation projects dealing with the management of coastal ecosystems, the ecology of Mediterranean environments and the assessment of MPAs as tool for the management and conservation of marine resources. The IMC collaborates with the managers of MPAs in order to implement the management measures on the basis of scientific data. Main studies are focused on benthic biocoenosis mapping and monitoring for the revision of the MPA zonation, assessment of fish and sea urchin abundance, assessment of human effects (e.g. boat anchoring and diving) on benthic assemblages, spread of non-native species and their impact on local marine assemblages. Particular emphasis is given to the anthropogenic impacts on systems of seagrass Posidonia oceanica because of their widespread distribution, sensitivity and vulnerability in the Schermata 2015-09-21 alle 19.00.56Mediterranean. Assessment and monitoring are being carried out on the vulnerability of sandy shores to erosion and on the factors controlling the dynamics of sandy shores. The relationship between shore stability and the production of biogenic debris in seagrass system is also investigated. Protocols for the monitoring the coastal area subjected to high risk of erosion are also developed. IMC is actively involved in disseminating of research results and sharing of scientific know-how with stakeholders at local, regional, european level and also to countries from south and east Mediterranean. The dissemination of knowledge is carried out either by participating in meetings, international networks and throughout the production of scientific publications, but also by means of scientific and technological training, through the organization of high level courses and working/studying stages.

The main lines of research  are addressed to: (i) coastal ecosystems (ii), aquaculture and fisheries, (iii) environmental economics and sociology.

In particular the IMC is engaged in:

Assessment of environmental status.

Monitoring and assessment of water quality, census of marine flora and fauna and characterization of sublittoral biocoenosis aimed to identification and zonation of Marine Protected Areas. Census and assessment of the distribution of alien species and their relationship with local assemblages.

Assessment of effectiveness of protection measures and design of management strategy.

Abundance and population structure of key species with commercial relevance also, in areas under different degree of protection.  Effects of MPAs on socioeconomic activities and design of management scenaria.

Assessment of tourism pressure.

Study of impact of recreational activities (diving, boating, fishing, trampling) on marine flora and fauna and sandy shores.

Sustainable management of bioresources.

Study of the relationship between exploited species and environmental factors, both biotic and abiotic. Stock assessment and  population structure of edible sea urchins; evaluation of the effects of fishery on the natural populations of commercial species like sea urchin, gray mullet and shellfish; reproduction in laboratory for experimental restocking of overexploited areas. Identification by means of genetic “fingerprinting” of different populations of commercial marine organisms, aimed to traceability of sea-food products. The IMC has already patented a system for recognizing the origin of gray mullet roe.

Distribution, status of health and vulnerability of seagrasses and seaweeds.

Mapping at high resolution aimed to assess the impact of anthropogenic activities and infrastructure construction on the coast; identification of areas of seagrass regression. Study on the relationships among the morphostructural characteristics of seagrass meadows, their distribution and sediment dynamics. Assessment of primary production of seagrasses.

Coastal vulnerability and sandy shore management and carrying capacity assessment.

Identification of vulnerability indicators of coastal erosion and factors controlling the sandy shore dynamics by means of analysis of morpho-dynamic variables, sediment features and web-cam monitoring. Relationship between shore stability and the production of biogenic sediments in seagrass systems. Assessment of the effects of human activities and beach management on the sandy shores. Geo-morphological and morpho-bathimetric measures in the coastal environment. Modelling of sediment deposition. Determination of the recreational sandy shores use carrying capacity.

International projects

The IMC’s scientific, organisational  and methodological base has been enriched by experiences in EU research  transnational and ooperation projects successfully developed.

IMC has been involved in the following EU projects:

Co.R.E.M  – Cooperazione delle Reti Ecologiche nel Mediterraneo. (Programme de coopération transfrontalière Italie-France “Maritime” 2007 – 2013)

IMAC  – Integrated Management of East Mediterranean Coastlines – An Action Plan for ICZM in Lebanon. (Third Regional Environment Programme in the Mediterranean SMAP III);

EMPAFISH  – European Marine Protected Areas as tools for FISHeries management and conservation. (FP6);

ECOOP  – European COastal-shelf sea OPerational observing and forecasting system. (FP6);

SESAME  – Southern European Seas: Assessing and Modelling Ecosystem changes. (Specific Programme: integrating and  trengthening the european reserch area);

ETHOFISH – The Effect of Turbidity and HypOxia on the behaviour of coastal marine FISHes. (FP5);

BIOCOMBE – BIOdiversity Changes in COastal Marine Benthic Ecosystems. (FP5);

MAMA – Mediterranean network to Assess and upgrade Monitoring and forecasting Activity in the region. (FP5);

MARBENA – MARine Biodiversity research in the European economic area and the Newly Associated states (FP5);

MF-STEP – Mediterranea Forecasting System Towards Environmental Predictability. (FP5);

Ampamed–Le rôle des Aires Marines Protégées dans la gestion durable d’Activités économiques, telles que la pêche artisanale et le tourisme, en harmonie avec l’identité culturelle des régions de Méditerranée Occidentale. (Interreg IIIB Medocc);

H2O-Encourager la pêche responsable dans l’ensemble du bassin méditerranéen  pour limiter les menaces du changement climatique. (Interreg IIIB Medocc);

GERER  – Gestion intègrèe de l’environnement à haute risque d’èrosion. (PIC Interreg IIIA);

MFSPP  – Mediterranea Forecasting System Pilot Project. (FP4);

EUMAC  – Eutrophication and MACrophites (Environment and Climate Programme);

ARENA  – A Regional Capacity Building and Networking Programme to Upgrade Monitoring and Forecasting Activity in the Black Sea Basin;

INDOO  – Indonesia Operational Ocean Observing System. (SPF programme EuropeAid). With the results of it’s research activities IMC supports local governments, MPAs and other public institutions in the management of the coastal zone, in matters related with human impacts, coastal erosion, aquaculture and fishery.

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