PROTECTION AND THREATS
The Mediterranean ribbed limpet (Patella ferruginea) is considered a “species of Community interest in need of strict protection” in Annex IV of the Habitats Directive (92/43/EC, of 21 May 1992), a “protected species” in the Berne (1995) and Barcelona (1996) Conventions, and in “danger of extinction” in the Spanish Catalogue of Endangered Species.
Moreover, the Ministry of the Environment and Rural and Marine Affairs also published “Conservation Strategy for the Mediterranean Ribbed Limpet (Patella ferruginea) in Spain”
(VV.AA., 2008),incorporated into Law 42/2007, of 13 December, on Natural and Biodiversity Heritage (Official State Gazette (BOE) No. 299, of 14 December 2007), for the conservation of the species in the three autonomous communities where it is found (Andalusia and the Autonomous Cities of Ceuta and Melilla), as well as the Chafarinas Islands.
At autonomous community level, it is also considered “in danger of extinction” in the Andalusian Catalogue of Endangered Species (Law 8/2003 of 28 October, on wild flora and fauna; Official Gazette of the Regional Government of Andalusia (BOJA), 218 of 12 November 2003) and “in critical danger” in the Red Book of Invertebrates of Andalusia. It currently features in the Andalusian Marine Environment Sustainable Management Programme as a species of priority study for the “inventory and conservation of catalogued marine invertebrate species.”
The species is currently considered to be the most endangered marine invertebrate along the rocky coasts of the Western Mediterranean.
Moreover, it is one of 7 marine invertebrate species, along with Astroides calycularis, Dendropoma petraeum, Charonia lampas and Pinna nobilis (“vulnerable”), Centrostephanus longispinus (“of special interest”) and Asterina pancerii (“sensitive to alteration of its habitat”), currently being tracked to establish the biology of each and spread their existence and importance.
In the case of the Autonomous City of Melilla, thanks to the inclusion of the Natural Space denominated as SCI “Maritime Terrestrial of the Cliffs of Aguadú” in Red Natura 2000 as Sites of Community Interest in the Habitats Directive of 2003 (ES6320001) and, subsequently, in February 2013, with the approval of the Management Plan for Natural Resources declared Special Areas of Conservation (SACs), said plan included a series of actions aimed at control and assessment of the Patella ferruginea, establishing steps for conservation and improvement of its status (Action C 10, Management Plan for Natural Resources for the Aguadú SCA area).
The relict conditions and the extreme situation of regression of populations of Patella ferruginea owe principally to a number of conditioning factors or threats:
Very restricted habitat: the species’ habitat is restricted to a small stretch of the intertidal zone (eulittoral zone)
Biological factors of the species: the species has a very short reproductive cycle, with manual pollination and is quite attached to its “home scar.”
Human exploitation: due to the high accessibility for humans to the species’ intertidal habitat, specimens of Patella ferruginea are commonly harvested as food or as feed for fish or for ornamental collection.
Pollution and destruction of the marine habitat: the species is also affected by the reduction in the quality of its habitat and its alteration as a result of coastal development or increased coastal pollution.
Ignorance of ecological status and protection: the public, by and large, are unaware of the ecological status and protection of the species. Greater awareness of its status among the public would imply protection of the species itself and its habitat safeguarded.