Monitoring tourism impact on seawater quality

CoNISMa monitored coastal seawater quality through macroalgae samplings.

The activities coordinated by CoNISMa (National Inter-University Consortium for Marine Sciences, Italy) aim at monitoring the quality of coastal seawater through short-term macroalgae deployments in Mediterranean islands.

The first experimental campaign was carried out in June 2017 in Cyprus, at the touristic site of Paralimni and the control site (non-touristic site) of Cavo Greco, and in Sicily (Italy) at the touristic bay of Giardini Naxos and the control site of Fondaco Parrino. These were intended to assess the baseline conditions of coastal waters in the season preceding the high seasonal tourism peak of August. Preliminary results highlighted overall comparable environmental conditions between touristic and control sites in both Cyprus and Sicily, indicating that the touristic areas did not experience evident deterioration of the quality of marine coastal waters during the low tourism season.

Afterwards, the second sampling campaign was conducted in August in the same two areas to study the effects of touristic peak on seawater quality, while a further campaign will be carried out within the first weeks of November to investigate the recovery of seawater conditions. Samples of the second campaign are still under laboratory analysis.

Final results will provide information about the exposure of macroalgae to anthropogenic nutrients across the seasons, allowing to highlight the temporal variation of the impact of tourism on seawater quality. The output will be geo-referenced maps that will be easily-readable for stakeholders and policymakers, showing the occurrence, extent and seasonal variation of plumes of nutrients of human origin, and hence providing an efficient system for coastal seawater quality monitoring in coastal touristic destinations.