The theme set this year for the international day for biodiversity is "From Agreement to Action: Build Back Biodiversity". This is a theme that perfectly fits the target of the SEA MARVEL project to Save, Enhance, Admire Marine Versatile Life in the central Mediterranean Sea where so many anthropogenic activities have and continue to impoverish and degrade marine life and environment respectively.
The Italia-Malta SEA MARVEL project continues to undertake marine research and monitoring, aimed at acquiring deeper and more accurate scientific information on the state of Italian-Maltese marine biodiversity and to assess the presence of vulnerable indicator species, such as dolphins, turtles, and whales. Apart from these the research also entails the investigation on presence of alien species and plastic waste in different protected Natura 2000 sites that should be there to protect indigenous species and a thriving marine environment.
The Marine Strategy Framework Directive, the Habitats Directive and the International Convention for Biodiversity continue to be important legal structures that direct the many nations agreeing to act today before tomorrow in the safeguard of what is essential for life on Earth to persist.
Science has the power to aid and innovate the ways to efficiently safeguard biodiversity instead of continuing to deplete it. For this reason the SEA MARVEL team focuses on scientific research and has also produced out puts of ongoing work through publications such as: 1) a paper in the journal BioInvasions Records on the First Record of a new alien fish, the marbled spinefoot, Siganus rivulatus in Maltese waters and 2) a paper in the journal Diversity on New Records of the alien crab Callinectes sapidus.
The SEA MARVEL teams also presented various scientific works on cetaceans in Natura 2000 sites, citizen science with sea users and plastic pollution at this year’s European Cetacean Society Conference in Spain.
Policies and agreements cannot be best assessed or adapted without the actions of research, monitoring and enforcement which are essential to build back the biodiversity we are already losing. SEA MARVEL has believed in this from the start when the Maltese and Italian teams joined forces to design the project and now to actuate it.
In Malta SEA MARVEL has taken science and biodiversity to the schools as well and today on this day dedicated to biodiversity it is continuing with its mission by working with Heads of School, teachers, and students in discovering more about marine biodiversity and the need to safeguard the health of our seas. The presentations prepared and delivered by experienced biologists from the Conservation Biology Research Group of the Department of Biology, Faculty of Science, University of Malta led by Prof. Adriana Vella allow students to learn and discuss with these scientists the value and needs of biodiversity.
The SEA MARVEL roving photographic exhibition revealing incredibly versatile marine life has been welcomed in many schools to the amazement and marvel of teachers and students. Being aware of the diversity of life that sustains ecosystems’ function, goods and services is important for increased awareness and involvement by every citizen of the world. This was also possible through the active involvement of The Ministry for Education, Sport, Youth, Research and Innovation, an Associate Partner of this project.
Stakeholders including fishermen and all sea users have been collaborating with the SEA MARVEL team and it is great to see actions that aid marine conservation be so possible when collaboration exists. A video clip on the innovative applications of molecular genetics to accurately identify marine species and aliens may be viewed on the project’s website media page.
Thanks, are also due to the Biological Conservation Research Foundation, BICREF (NGO) that voluntarily assists in the dissemination in schools and sea users.
Interesting and valid message from David Cooper, Acting Secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) on today’s Biodiversity day’s theme.
For further information, contact Prof. Adriana Vella.