International workshop in Gozo on results of 4-year seabird research
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BirdLife Malta, along with its project partners, is hosting an international workshop in Gozo on seabirds to present an inventory of marine Important Bird Areas (IBAs) within Maltese waters.
Identified by the LIFE+ Malta Seabird Project, an initiative started in 2011, these areas are proposed to become a part of the EU’s Natura 2000 network.
Over 50 international participants from 17 Mediterranean countries, including marine scientists, conservationists, government authorities, as well as European Commission representatives, will gather to set a way forward for seabird protection across national borders.
The LIFE+ Malta Seabird Project has been carrying out research for the last 4 years to find the areas at sea that are most important for Malta’s breeding protected seabirds, namely, the Yelkouan Shearwater (Garnija), the Scopoli’s Shearwater (Ciefa) and the European Storm-petrel (Kangu ta’ Filfla).
Project data has already contributed to the Global Seabird Tracking Database which is one of the world’s biggest marine conservation collaborations. This database is the foundation for the identification of the most important areas for seabirds worldwide and has recently passed 5 million data points, received from 120 research institutes.
Last month Portugal applied legal protection for two new marine protected sites. SPEA, the Portuguese partner of the Malta Seabird Project, had originally proposed these as marine IBAs following ten years of EU-funded projects researching the seabirds’ ventures at sea.
On the 23rd November, the Malta Seabird Project will be launching an inventory of marine Important Bird Areas, identified within the 25 nautical miles of Malta’s Exclusive Fishery Zone (EFZ).
Similarly to Portugal, the government then can apply legal protection designated these areas as marine Special Protected Areas (SPAs). These will become part of the wide Natura 2000 network of protected areas for birds in Europe.
The workshop “Protecting seabirds in the Mediterranean: Advancing the Marine Protected Area Network” will take place in Gozo, at the Hotel Ta’ Cenc, Sannat, between the 23rd and 25th of November.
Those interested in attending can register here.
Photograph: Scopoli’s Shearwaters by Aron Tanti