MEPA launches scientific survey to protect dolphins and turtles

This project, which will span over three years, is also being co-financed by the Ministry for Sustainable Development, Environment and Climate Change and BOV, as the official co-financier

The survey is part of a €1 million life project to improve the protection of the bottlenose dolphin (id-denfil ta’ geddumu qasir) and the loggerhead turtle (il-fekruna l-komuni) around the Maltese waters.
The survey is part of a €1 million life project to improve the protection of the bottlenose dolphin (id-denfil ta’ geddumu qasir) and the loggerhead turtle (il-fekruna l-komuni) around the Maltese waters.

The Malta Environment and Planning Authority (MEPA) has launched a boat-based survey which focuses directly on the scientific data-gathering for the protection of dolphins and turtles. The Authority said that these scientific surveys should lead to further necessary knowledge on the conservation status and lead to identification of potential important areas for these species, if found to be present in Malta.

The survey is part of a €1 million life project to improve the protection of the bottlenose dolphin (id-denfil ta’ geddumu qasir) and the loggerhead turtle (il-fekruna l-komuni) around the Maltese waters.

“Although both species are protected by the EU and other legislation, conservation policies and measures only become effective when quality data is made available,” a MEPA statement read. “Due to the lack of comprehensive information regarding the population dynamics of these species and the type of habitats that are essential for their survival, scientific studies have to be carried out systematically.”

For the project, MEPA has teamed up with KAI Marine Services (Spain) - a marine conservation company which will also be contributing financially towards the project as well as sharing its extensive expertise in helping to identify such crucial areas for these species. In fact, KAI Marine, have already carried out similar LIFE projects in Spain where they assisted in the identification of such important areas.

This project, which will span over three years, is also being co-financed by the Ministry for Sustainable Development, Environment and Climate Change and BOV, as the official co-financier.

While praising all the stakeholders who have been engaged in this project, Minister Leo Brincat said that he would nevertheless today like to take a look at the big picture itself. “The need to halt Biodiversity Loss as this has now become one of our and Europe’s main challenges, not only for the short term but also for the foreseeable future.”

Brincat said that “our main efforts should not be solely directed at minimising biodiversity damage but at halting it. He said that the EU last month launched a commendable EU no net loss initiative on the need to halt biodiversity loss. It made the point that if we are to stop such decline, losses resulting from human activities must be balanced by gains. “When gains are at least equivalent to the losses, the principle of ‘no net loss’ is respected,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Parliamentary Secretary, Michael Falzon said that the project was the “first of its kind in Malta”, as to date very little scientific data necessary for the full protection and conservation of important migratory species is readily available locally.”

“Marine conservation efforts in Malta are crucial being a maritime nation at the cross-roads of the Mediterranean sea and we have a duty to protect our marine biodiversity for the benefit of the present and future generations,” Falzon said. “We need, however, to give more value to marine protected areas and marine reserves, to halt the loss of biodiversity and ensure the sustainable use of marine resources.”

Carmen Mifsud, who is responsible for this project, said that this data gathering will also involve stakeholders, sea-users and the public on a voluntary basis as well as officials from the maritime squadron of the AFM and the CPD. ‘These volunteers, officials and other stakeholders are being provided with basic training, on the correct identification of these species, in order to allow them to record sightings effectively”.

Lastly, Kenneth Farrugia from Bank of Valletta, said that he was proud to be involved with the project and said that being socially responsible has become intertwined with the way BOV operates and carries out its business. “The bank's sustained commitment to environmental issues is reflected in the support that has been extended to various environmental led initiatives over the past years,” he said. “Clearly, the Life + Project Migrate, will positively contribute towards their respective conservation and longevity.”

 

Anyone interested in following this project or participating as volunteers may contact the project team via email at [email protected].

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