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Summary of Site Visits to Some of Italy's Marine Protected Areas: Torre Guaceto

Torre Guaceto

Dr. Sandro Ciccolella, director of Torre Guaceto marine protected area.
Of the three marine protected areas in the region of Puglia, two are on opposite sides of the "heel" of the Italian peninsula. The smaller of these two, Torre Guaceto (Tower of Guaceto) on the eastern coast along the Adriatic sea, protects the coastal waters offshore of a regional terrestrial park. The MPA integrates the management responsibilities of the terrestrial park and the marine protected area. The management structure for the park and marine protected area lie with a consortium of the city of Carovigno (principal management responsibility), the city of Brindisi and the World Wildlife Fund. The MPA manager works for both the park and marine protected area, as well as for the Ministry of Environment in Rome who directs the overall marine protected area program for Italy.


map of Guaceto
Map of Torre Guaceto marine protected area.

This potential for divergent direction can be a force multiplier because the manager can develope programs that benefit the terrestrial park, the marine protected area, the local communities and the administration in Rome. An interesting example of one the marine protected area's sustainable development projects involves helping the owner of a local olive orchard convert to organic olives and olive oil, products for which there is a large and growing market in central Europe. The marine protected area has agreed to buy the olives for two years while the orchard is converted to organic, a step that allows the grower sustained return while he learns how to grow olives in a way that reduces pesticide and fertilizer use and reduces harmful runoff into the park's wetlands and into the marine protected area.

beach along the Adriatic
Quiet beach along Adriatic Sea, Torre Guaceto marine protected area.

Another interesting development is that the director of the marine protected area has discretion to issue permits to allow local commercial fishing. Local fishermen have received support to develop fishing activities in other areas and avoid the entire marine protected area. So instead of 8% of the marine protected area being zoned for no harvest, effectively 100% of it now is. After monitoring for socioeconomic impacts to the fishermen, the marine protected area may be able to permit them to fish within the zones of the protected area that allow fishing.

The marine protected area has a visitor center to serve both the park and the marine waters. By being coupled with a terrestrial park, it facilitates offering land-sea tourism opportunities, such as bicycle touring along the coast, guided coastal walks, and "seawatching", guided underwater tours for snorkelers or scuba divers.

Torre Guaceto
The historic tower of Torre Guaceto, now used as educational location and observation post for Zone A.

The marine protected area also has some submerged maritime resources, including unexplored archaeological remains on one of the small offshore islands. And the tower itself is an important cultural resource, reflecting an old system to watch over the coastline from invading Turkish armies—each tower in visual contact with the next one 2-3 miles away on the coast line. When invaders arrived, by land or sea, soldiers in the tower would light a signal fire, then replicated at the next tower, and so on, until the signal reached the regional army. It is perhaps fitting that the tower is now used by WWF staff as part of the visual enforcement of the Zone As and Zone Bs of Torre Guaceto marine protected area.

For more information on Torre Guaceto marine protected area, go to:
URL:    Reviewed: November 20, 2017
Web Site Owner: National Ocean Service

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