RIMA – Scientific School

2nd - 6th May 2022


The Scientific School RIMA – Sustainable management of sea urchins: towards a balance between the need for harvesting and the ecosystem conservation is organized by the IMC Foundation -International Marine Centre of Oristano in collaboration with the University of Genoa. The Scientific School will take place in Torregrande (Oristano, Italy) from 2nd to 6th May 2022. The school is addressed to students, graduates, PhD students, researchers, as well as to technical and human resources from public administration. The official language of the school is English.

Themes and purposes

Overfishing has led to the widespread collapse of many fish stocks and the consequent development in fisheries of invertebrates such as sea urchins. Due to the important ecological role played by these organisms, sea urchins fishing, besides the growing concern about the effects on ecosystems, has caused a re-evaluation of management practices for sustainable fishing. Many of the exploited sea urchin species play a key role for the coastal ecosystems. Sea urchins are among the most important macroherbivores that control, through grazing, the macroalgal community composition and the biodiversity of seabed on a local scale. The natural abundance of sea urchins is in turn controlled by top predators which are often target species of fishery. An uncontrolled increase of sea urchins caused by the lack of fish predators due to overfishing, as well as a drastic reduction of them caused by over-harvesting, may have important ecological effects at both population and community levels.

From a management perspective, understanding the biological traits and the fragile ecological mechanisms supporting biodiversity and in which sea urchins are primarily involved, is the first fundamental step for planning effective actions of ecosystem conservation and sustainable fishery on a local scale.

Among the main issues, RIMA will focus on the  tri-trophic interactions “fish-sea urchins-macroalgae” of   Mediterranean rocky reef involving the edible sea urchin Paracentrotus lividus, the effects of human overexploitation on the ecological balance, the local policy to contrast ecosystem degradation, up to the exploration of the management methods adopted in different regions of Europe. 

RIMA aims to provide highly specialized training to develop and strengthen the skills of students, young researchers and operators of both public and private sectors working in the conservation of coastal ecosystems and in fishery management. The state of the art, the necessary scientific and technical skills, good practices and future prospects for the management of the sea urchin resource will be explored with a particular focus on Sardinian context. Participants will deepen, through the know-how transfer from high-level scientific profiles and in a multidisciplinary way, issues related to the biology and ecology of the sea urchins, the effects of change in the natural abundance of the populations, the restoration of natural abundance through management and restructuring of ecosystems and, finally, the simulations of predictive ecological models.

The program includes lectures, practical laboratory and data analysis sessions, encouraging the exchange of experiences between experts and students.

Target of the Scientific School

RIMA is open to students and graduates in scientific disciplines, PhD students, researchers and operators of managing bodies of marine protected areas and technicians in the sector of conservation, fishing and management of marine bio-resources. The goal is to train highly specialized personnel to be assigned to public and private bodies and competent administrations in the field of research, management and monitoring of sea urchin fishing and environmental protection with particular regard to Sardinia.

The Scientific School is organized to offer students a balanced path between theoretical and practical sessions and to encourage the exchange of experiences. Participants will have the opportunity to interact intensively with teachers throughout the school (including during meal times, breaks and free evening activities). All participants, including teachers, will have the opportunity to stay in the same hotel for the entire duration of the school.

No registration fees are required to participate in the RIMA Scientific School. However, all participants must take part in the entire event, both lectures, laboratory and informal activities.

The maximum number of participants is 15 students, a limitation due to practical laboratory activities. The RIMA Scientific School will be activated upon reaching the minimum number of 12 students. Should the applications exceed the available places, a list of those admitted will be drawn up taking into account both the curriculum of studies and the chronological order of receipt of the application.

Understanding of English language is required.


RIMA will take place through lectures in the classroom and practical activities in the laboratory at the facilities of the IMC Foundation. The School will last 5 days and one morning will be dedicated to a workshop open to local stakeholders.

The contents of the RIMA Scientific School can conceptually be divided into five main topics:

1. Biology, ecology and population dynamics of sea urchins

Knowing the biology and the population dynamics of sea urchins is essential to ensure an effective management of the species. The lecture sessions will focus on: biology and ecology of the sea urchin Paracentrotus lividus; reproduction and recruitment; natural growth and natural mortality (e.g. predation, diseases, exceptional events); environmental factors influencing these ecological processes. The practical sessions will support the theoretical ones and will allow students to get into close touch with the species functioning and behavior.

2. Over-harvesting and possible management actions

The direct and indirect effects of harvesting can affect both the sea urchin population and the benthic communities. Understanding the mechanisms that regulate these effects is essential for developing an efficient resource regulation plan. In the theoretical section, harvesting effects will be addressed both at the population and at the community level. Some experiences of management aimed at the recovery of natural densities of the resource, such as restocking, will be presented.

3. Over-grazing and possible management actions

Opposite effects are observed when the densities of urchins increase (for both natural and human induced reasons), In fact, one of the most widespread problems in the Mediterranean Sea is linked to overfishing of predatory fish that control sea urchin populations, causing uncontrolled proliferations that in the most relevant cases determine irreversible habitat-shifts with loss of macroalgae and biodiversity over large spatial scales. The RIMA Scientific School will address the knowledge on the effects of overfishing in an efficient management plan of the resources. In the theoretical section, examples related to the overgrazing effects at the community level will be exposed. Some actions to contain populations and to recover algal cover (restoration) will be described.

4. Population monitoring and modeling methods

One of the most critical points to monitor the resource is the high spatial and temporal variability in the abundance and distribution of sea urchins along the coast. It is therefore evident the importance of exploring predictive models both relative to population dynamics, based on trophic interactions and to larval diffusion to estimate the intensity of populations’ connectivity. In the theoretical lessons, the operational principles of models will be showed. This part of the RIMA Scientific School will allow students to understand the potential of these predictive tools for sustainable harvesting and ecosystem conservation planning. A practical lesson will also be prepared in which the students will be able to carry out simulations

5. Management strategies

In Northern Europe as well as in other parts of the world, few management plans have been implemented to optimize sea urchin harvesting and make it sustainable over time.  In this regard, experts from Norway and Iceland will present to the students their experience in management plans from their Countries participating to the Northern Periphery and the Arctic funded URCHIN project. 


A thematic workshop will be organized as a satellite initiative within the RIMA Scientific School. The workshop is addressed in particular to local stakeholders such as directors of Marine Protected Areas, Fisheries Department and all public administrations involved in fisheries management and marine conservation. The initiative will involve all the research institutions of Sardinia and will aim to present the results of research activities devoted to the sustainability of fisheries and to foster opportunities / future challenges for the development of sea urchin conservation plan in Sardinia.

Below is the link for more details on the RIMA Scientific School and the registration form.

The application form must be completed before 6th March 2022. 

A CV and a copy of the ID card must be attached.

Participants will receive a notification of acceptance by 4th April 2022.


The IMC is a research institution whose main objective is to promote scientific research aimed at the management of bio-resources and the Mediterranean marine environment. The role of the IMC in the regional research system of Sardinia is oriented towards proposing scientific and technological solutions to support the productive systems and the sustainable use of marine and coastal resources. At the same time, IMC carries out research aimed at understanding the processes that regulate the functioning of marine ecosystems with applications in the management of marine and coastal biological resources and in the protection of biodiversity, taking care of the possible socio-economic consequences. 

As a part of the Scientific and Technological Park of Sardinia, the IMC is committed in the study of the interactions between the natural environment and anthropic activities that can influence organisms and habitats of particular importance and in the identification of management strategies for the conservation of the quality of environment and biodiversity. IMC develops its activities both independently and through national and international collaborations, as part of specific research programs and cooperation projects.

The activities of the IMC are aimed at promoting the progress of scientific knowledge and the socio-economic development of Sardinian territory through the increase of specialized technical knowledge and through international scouting of technologies and good practices. The outputs are the technology transfer to aquaculture enterprises for the development of innovative and sustainable production activities and the support to local authorities and regional administrations in the management and conservation of marine-coastal resources.

The IMC introduces young graduates to the world of work and research through professional development training as well as the coaching of masters and PhD research candidates in collaboration with national and European universities. The IMC regularly hosts undergraduate and graduate students for training periods as part of internships offered by the science faculties of national/international universities and promotes the scientific training through the organization of advanced schools. The IMC disseminates the results of its research through the organization of conferences, workshops and seminars and takes care of the dissemination of scientific culture to the general public.

The contribution of the IMC to the RIMA Scientific School is linked to the research experience on the biology of the target species, the sea urchin Paracentrotus lividus, and on the ecological processes that govern its population dynamics and that are crucial for the sustainable management of the resource. In addition, IMC has experience in laboratory reproduction techniques, on the influence of diet and environmental conditions to optimize the development of the larval and post-larval stages through the implementation of specific breeding protocols and for the production of microalgae. The experience of IMC researchers, which extends from the environmental field up to the production of sea urchin juveniles by aquaculture techniques, as well as the innovative and well equipped laboratories, are the added value of IMC makes available to the RIMA Scientific School.

More info: www.fondazioneimc.it

In partnership with

DISTAV – University of Genoa, Department of Earth, Environment and Life Sciences

The DiSTAV of the University of Genoa is an academic institution focused on teaching and research in the fields of earth, environmental and life sciences. It includes 9 different courses (in the fields of Biology, Environmental and Natural Sciences and Geology) and the PhD course in Sciences and Technologies for the Environment and the Territory. It also participates in the PhD in Sciences and Technologies of the Sea.

The DISTAV carries out an intense research activity in many fields of Biology and Geology, in the context of basic, oriented, finalized and applied research. In particular, these activities are addressed to the study, defense and conservation of the environment (Both aquatic and terrestrial), the assessment of environmental quality, the management and exploitation of resources.

The DISTAV research group that takes part in the RIMA Scientific School is composed of the marine ecology team, coordinated by Mariachiara Chiantore (Associate Professor), president of the Aquaculture Committee of the Italian Society of Marine Biology from 2016 to 2021. The group she leads deals with aquaculture, with particular reference to new species (e.g. sea urchins) and to the breeding of species (e.g. algae and molluscs) through the reuse of wastewater from fish farms, with particular attention to environmental monitoring, the animal health and the food safety. The group also deals with the ecology of macroalgae and experimenting with cultivation techniques. The activities are carried out through the participation and coordination of several European projects in the field of aquaculture, breeding of marine invertebrates and production of seaweeds, including some specifically addressed to sea urchins.

RIMA Scientific Committee

Dr. Ivan Guala (IMC, International Marine Centre, Oristano)

Dr. Simone Farina (Stazione Zoologica Anton Dohrn)

Dr. Mariachiara Chiantore  (DISTAV – University of Genoa)

RIMA Organizing Committee

Dr. Ivan Guala

Dr. Enrica Mura

Dr. Gianna Poddi

Dr. Alessia Meloni

Dr. Elisa Serra

Dr. Paolo Mossone

Dr. Daniele Grech

programma Imc Scientific School RIMA

Click here to download the program in pdf format

Mariachiara Chiantore

Department for Earth, Environment and Life Sciences (DiSTAV), University of Genoa, Italy

Biologist, Associate Professor in Ecology, she deals with the ecology of coastal communities, with particular reference to their functioning, the assessment of environmental quality, their conservation and restoration. for the purpose of restocking and for environmental restoration. She has been or presently is coordinator and/or participant of 7 EU Projects and author of over 100 publications in international journals.

Philip James

NOFIMA Norwegian Institute of Food, Fisheries and Aquaculture Research, Norway

Philip James is a senior scientist with more than 25 years of aquaculture research experience in New Zealand and Norway. Has a particular focus on aquaculture of invertebrate marine species, including all aspects of sea urchin fisheries and farming. His experience includes 16 years at the New Zealand research institute (NIWA), and ten years at Nofima, Norway’s largest aquaculture research institute.

Gudrun G. Thorarinsdóttir

Marine and Freshwater Research Institute, Iceland

Degree in Biology at the University of Iceland in 1981 and in Education from the University of Iceland in 1983. Masters in Marine Biology at the Faculty of Sciences of the University of Aarhus, Denmark in 1987. PhD at the Faculty of Sciences of ‘University of Aarhus, Denmark, in 1993.

She is currently a marine biologist at the Marine and Freshwater Research Institute in Reykjavik, Iceland, specialist in bivalves (aquaculture, stock assessment, age research, growth etc.) and echinoderms (sea urchins and sea cucumbers). She has teaching experience as a master’s degree supervisor at University of the Faroe Islands, University of Iceland, University of Westfjords.

Andrea Cucco

National Research Council, Institute for study of Anthropic Impacts (CNR-IAS), Italy

PhD in Environmental Sciences at the University of Ca ‘Foscari in Venice in 2005. Since 2001 he is researcher at the Italian National Research Council in Oristano. His research activity is focused on Physical Oceanography and specifically on the development and application of numerical models to predict and reproduce the main bio-geo-chemical processes in both open sea and coastal areas. During the last years he has been involved in research initiatives aimed to predict the risk and the danger coming from the potential and accidental release of hydrocarbons and other pollutants in the marine environment. He has been involved in various research projects at both European and national level. Since 2016 he is Representative of the National Research Council at the IAPSO/IUGG International Organization. He is the author of more than 60 scientific articles published in ISI journals. He collaborates with various research institutions at both national and international levels and carries out revision and editing activities for various scientific journals.

Matteo Sinerchia

National Research Council, Institute for study of Anthropic Impacts (CNR-IAS), Italy

Ph.D. in marine ecosystem modelling at Imperial College London in 2007, using an individual based model for squid recruitment variability under changing environmental conditions. He has been working as researcher at CNR- IAS since 2009 with the role of ecosystem modeller. The scientific activity is focused on modelling ecosystem response to combined natural and/or alternative management scenarios. He was involved in several national and EU projects using end-to-end ecosystem modelling as a supporting tool for ecosystem-based fisheries management.

Jordi Boada

Department of Ecology, University of Barcelona, Spain

Degree in Marine Sciences and Oceanography (2011), Master in Fundamental and Applied Ecology (2012), PhD in Fundamental and Applied Ecology (2016) at the University of Barcelona with the thesis “Change agents: sea urchin regulation and state shifts in Mediterranean macrophyte systems “. Postdoc at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) in Sydney (Australia). He currently works at the “Department of Biology, Ecology and Environmental Sciences” at the University of Barcelona dealing with the ecology of benthic systems, in particular the changes in status of macrophyte communities and the consequences at the ecosystem and socio-ecological level. He collaborates with various national and international research institutions and have participated in 16 projects, 2 of which as principal investigator. He is author of 15 articles in specialized scientific journals with a high impact factor and reviewer and editor for various scientific journals. Jordi is currently a MSCA postdoctoral fellow at the Laboratoire d’Océanographie de Villefranche (Sorbonne Université).

Simone Farina

Stazione Zoologica Anton Dohrn, Italy

Ecologist, he deals with the conservation of coastal ecosystems and the management of natural resources. His research focuses on the assessment of the health status of ecosystems through the analysis of habitat structure, community trophic interactions and population dynamics of key species; the evaluation of anthropogenic activities and climate change effects on ecosystems; the assessment of the reserve effect and the fishing pressure on protected and unprotected benthic ecosystems; the development of large-scale data collection techniques through citizen participation. He has experience in international cooperation projects, education, training and tutoring of undergraduates and interns. He is the author of 24 articles in international journals, more than 20 communications at international and national scientific conferences. He has participated in 10 scientific projects including 2 as principal investigator.

Giovanni Romagnoni

Leibniz Center for Tropical Marine Sciences (ZMT), Bremen, Germany

With a PhD at the University of Oslo (Norway) in 2021 and a Master of Research in Marine Biology at University of Plymouth (UK) in 2010, Giovanni has specialised in exploring the interface between ecological dynamics and human pressures. Giovanni applies ecosystem models to account for food web interactions, environmental and fishing drivers to evaluate the synergistic effects of climate change and fishing on different components of marine ecosystems. In addition, Giovanni has experience in fisheries management through stock-assessment and bioeconomic models and participated to several EU and international projects.

The RIMA Scientific School will take place at the headquarters of the IMC Foundation 


Località Sa Mardini Torregrande – 09170 Oristano (Sardinia, Italy)

The RIMA Scientific School is open to students, practitioners and researchers at any stage of their career.

15 places are available, 8 of which are reserved for people residing in Sardinia.

Please note that the number of participants may vary in relation to the pandemic situation due to Covid-19. If necessary, the organization will evaluate the use of a blended learning modality with a limited number of places available for the traditional place-based classroom; ​the other admitted students will be able to follow the school remotely.

No registration fees are required. Participants will benefit from lessons, didactic material, coffee breaks, lunches and transfers between IMC and the Hotel affiliated with IMC for the RIMA Scientific School.

The application form must be fully completed by 6th March 2022, a CV and a copy of the identity card must be attached.

Participants will receive a notification of acceptance by 4th April 2022.

Selected participants must confirm their attendance by providing a copy of the travel ticket or a receipt from the hotel.

For more information, please contact info@imcscientificschool.com



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