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From local to regional, to basin-wide networks of marine protected areas (released November 2012)

The scientific community has long been in agreement that Mediterranean marine protected areas (MPAs) are threatened not only by local stressors but also by regional and global pressures. Until recently, most scientific studies on MPAs were carried out on individual MPAs and only recently have such studies started to be extended to the entire MPA network of a country. However, nature does not respect national political boundaries and for truly effective protection of marine biodiversity, individual MPAs must not only be considered as part of national networks, but these networks need to be integrated into a 'network of networks' at regional and even basin levels.

CoCoNet (acronym for "Towards COast to COast NETworks of marine protected areas - from the high shore to the high and deep sea - coupled with sea-based wind energy potential") is a research project funded under the European Union's Seventh Framework Programme which aims at addressing the need for scientific community to come together, synthesise existing knowledge and provide clear information that will enable the establishment of a 'network of networks' of MPAs in the Mediterranean and Black Sea with a coordinated policy of marine protection.  The project primarily seeks to produce guidelines for the design, management and monitoring of a network of MPAs in these basins, but will also explore locations where offshore windfarms (OWFs) might be established within this network. CoCoNet is innovative since it looks at OWFs as potentially useful to portect habitats that are considered valuable because of the biodiversity they encompass, rather than being detrimental to their conservation.

CoCoNet was initiated in February 2012 and comprises 39 partner institutions form 22 European, Mediterranean and Black Sea Countries, including the University of Malta, which is represented by the Department of Biology.

During the past months, the Maltese team has been actively involved in the initial phase of the project, which is focused on synthesising existing knowledge relevant to the setting up and management of MPA networks. This included participation in several workshops, the first of which dealt with habitat classification schemes in common use and with an assessment of their applicability to the Mediterranean and Black Sea regions. The Maltese teams also participated in three other workshops, one on genetic connectivity within the Mediterranean and Black Sea, a second focusing on patterns of distribution of species assemblages and beta-diversity, and a third on methodologies used to manage MPAs, best practices and drivers of change.

In the coming weeks, the Maltese team will be participating in further CoCoNet activities, including a workshop on best practices for the management of MPAs, network monitoring and management effectiveness, the investigation of scenarios of environmental change, and a workshop on the current state of knowledge on changes in the main physical, chemical, biological and geological parameters in the Mediterranean and Black Sea. This will be followed by the first annual meeting which will be held in January 2013.

For more information, contact Professor Patrick J. Schembri at the Department of Biology, University of Malta or visit the University of Malta website here or the CoCoNet website here

 

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A copy of the press releases can be accessed from here

 

Iż-żoni marittimi protetti; bidla minn perspettiva lokali għal waħda globali (released February 2013) 

Huwa fatt magħruf li ż-żoni marittimi protetti tal-Mediterran qed jiġu mhedda kemm lokalment kif ukoll fuq skala reġjunali. Dan jaqblu dwaru ħafna riċerkaturi fil-qasam xjentifiku u dak marittimu. 

Sa ftit snin ilu, studji xjentifiċi f'dan il-qasam kienu jiffukaw biss fuq żoni marittimi protetti li kienu jiġu studjati kull waħda għaliha. Dan l-aħħar, iżda, l-attenzjoni inbidlet minn stjudji fuq żona marittima waħda, għal studju kollettiv fejn iż-żoni kollha ta' pajjiż wieħed jiġu analiżżati daqs li kieku jiffurmaw "katina" flimkien, u hekk l-aspett ta’ kif kull żona tiddipendi fuq l-oħrajn jkun evalwat ukoll.

Nafu iżda, li n-natura m'għandiex fruntieri bejn pajjiż u iehor, u għalhekk mhux biżżejjed li jsir studju fuq il-"katina" ffurmata miż-żoni ta' pajjiż wieħed, iżda hemm bżonn li naqilbu minn studji nazzjonali għal dawk tar-regjun kollu, fejn il-ħafna "ktajjen" f'pajjiżi differenti jingħaqdu f'"katina" waħda kbira li twassal għal protezzjoni iktar effettiva tal-bijodiversità marittima.

Huwa f'dan il-kuntest li tnieda l-proġett CoCoNet "Towards COast to COast NETworks of marine protected areas - from the shore to the high and deep sea - coupled with sea-based wind energy potential”. L-użu ta' finanzjament mis-Seba' Programm Qafas għar-Riċerka u Żvilupp (FP7) tal-Unjoni Ewropeja għandu jgħin sabiex il-komunità xjentifika tiltaqa', taqsam l-informazzjoni, u tipprovdi dettalji sabiex jiġu stabbiliti liema huma l-"ktajjen" ta' żoni marittimi protetti fil-Mediterran u fil-Baħar l-Iswed. L-għan aħħari ta' dan il-programm ta' riċerka jibqa' dak li tiġi mħarsa l-bijodiversità marittima.

Primarjament, dan il-proġett għandu jgħin sabiex dawn il-"ktajjen" ta' żoni protetti jiġu magħżula u mħarsa. Il-proġett iżda għandu għan ieħor; dak li jfittex għall-inħawi fejn ikun possibli li 'l quddiem jinbnew xi mtieħen tar-rih fil-baħar Mediterran jew il-Baħar l-Iswed. CoCoNet jieħu xejra differenti minn dik li normalment nisimgħu biha; dan il-proġett jara l-imtieħen tar-riħ fil-baħar bħala wieħed mill-mezzi li jistgħu jintużaw biex jipproteġu ambjenti marittimi b'valur partikolari, minflok ma jara l-imtieħen bhala xi haga li taghmel ħsara biss lill-ambjent.

Il-proġett CoCoNet inbeda fi Frar 2012 u huwa kollaborazzjoni bejn 39 istituzzjoni minn 22 pajjiż Ewropew jew Mediterran. L-Università ta' Malta hija waħda minn dawn l-istituzzjonijiet u qed tiġi rrappreżentata mid-Dipartiment tal-Bijoloġija. 

F'dawn l-aħħar xhur, il-grupp Malti ħa sehem fil-fażi inizzjali tal-proġett li kienet iffukata fuq is-sintesi tal-informazzjoni li diġà teżisti u li tista' possibilment tintuża biex jitwaqqfu dawn il-"ktajjen" ta' żoni marittimi protetti msemmija. Dan kien jinvolvi fost oħrajn, il-parteċipazzjoni f'diversi workshops, uħud minnhom barra minn Malta. L-ewwel wieħed kien dwar l-iskemi għall-klassifikazzjoni tal-ambjenti marittimi, ieħor kien dwar il-ġenetika u l-konnettività fil-Mediterran, ieħor dwar it-tixrid tal-ispeċi marittimi fil-Mediterran, wieħed dwar il-prattiċi wżati fit-twaqqif u l-ħarsien taż-żoni protetti eżistenti, u ieħor dwar il-bidla fl-ambjent.

Għal aktar informazzjoni, wieħed jista' jkellem lil Prof. Patrick J. Schembri mid-Dipartiment tal-Bijoloġija tal-Università ta' Malta jew iżur is-sit tal-Università ta' Malta minn hawnhekk jew is-sit tal-Proġett minn hawnhekk.    

 

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Għal kopja ta' din l-istqarrija żur hawnhekk.

  
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