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Summary of Site Visits to Some of Italy's Marine Protected Areas: Porto Cesareo

mao of Porto Cesareo
Map of Porto Cesareo marine protected area.

Porto Cesareo

On the west coast of Puglia, on the western side of the "heel" of the boot of Italy, is the Ionian (Jonio) Sea. Porto Cesareo, an old historic port town on the Jonio Sea, is the name given to the third largest marine protected area. It protects 64 square miles, 20 miles of coastline, and 20% of the area is zoned either Zone A or Zone B (click here for more information about Italian zoning of protected areas).

Like other marine protected areas in Italy, the management of Porto Cesareo is handled by local communities, in this case, the cities of Porto Cesareo and Nardo, and the province (in California, like a county) of Lecce. As has happened with other Italian marine protected areas, changes in the political power within a local community can lead to changes in the leadership of the marine protected area.

exhibit of fishing seasons
Exhibit on fishing seasons in and around Porto Cesareo marine protected area.

Like several other marine protected areas in Italy, Porto Cesareo is fortunate to have regional scientists who are focusing a good deal of research on the protected area. Faculty, staff and students at the University of Lecce developed a benthic habitat map of Porto Cesareo. The map is extremely accurate for nearshore waters as a team dove and snorkeled to the bottom to identify benthic substrate and then relay that to colleagues in a boat on the surface. The lab now uses the data via GIS data layers to help guide future research.

A marine museum has been created as part of the marine biology station in Porto Cesareo, run by the University of Lecce, that distributes information about the protected area, coastal stewardship, and sustainable fishing practices and fisheries. This center effectively serves as the region's education center while the management of the marine protected area is being re-established.


exhibit at Lecce's University Museum
Exhibit at University of Lecce's marine museum, near Porto Cesareo marine protected area.

The coast along Porto Cesareo marine protected area has many wide, long sandy beaches, like most in Puglia, open to the public. Millions of people travel to beaches in the summer, affording both a resource management challenge as well as an education opportunity.











For more information about Porto Cesareo marine protected area, go to:

For a website for the University of Lecce's marine biology station and museum, go to:

URL:    Reviewed: November 20, 2017
Web Site Owner: National Ocean Service

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