The launch of a new cetacean species and marine environmental protection project promoted by the Calabria region, in Italy, sees the involvement of the conservation biologist, Adriana Vella, Ph.D. (Cambridge), academic at the University of Malta and founder of the NGO BICREF (Malta), who is also an experienced researcher of dolphins and whales in the Mediterranean.
Dr Vella will be working alongside the CE.S.R.A.M (Italy) for the realisation of this project. This project, possible through the 2014-2020 Operational Program of the Calabria Region for the conservation, restoration and protection of habitats and species of the Natura 2000 network has just started, on the 1st of December 2018.
The project on marine research of biodiversity focuses on cetaceans and their habitat’s health to improve regional marine environmental conservation management. It will also target stakeholder awareness and participation. Dr Vella believes such projects are essential in reducing gaps in knowledge on the conservation status of dolphin and whales in the central Mediterranean Region. Such work will also allow for greater synergies between the long-term and ongoing cetacean research she has led for over 20 years in Maltese waters and such new projects launched in neighbouring countries. Cetaceans are not only effective flagship species but also indicator species that reflect marine species richness and habitat health. Dr Vella has also supervised scientific cetacean research in Greek waters, apart from contributing to Mediterranean wide research expeditions.
Other contributing partners and stakeholders in this conservation project include the SkipperService360, the International School for Scientific Diving ISSD, the Calabrian association, the AISA, and the Satriano divers association.
Also present at the launch of this conservation project were the Municipalities concerned with the respective mayors or representatives; Members of the Committee for the Regional Marine Parks Authority; and students of the Liceo Classico and of the Salesian Institute of Soverato, who will actively participate in the project. "For the boys it is not only a service provided by the school, it is an opportunity to understand their own land and sea, learn to love and respect it, and transmit this respect to others. The change starts above all from education in schools ", stated the President CE.S.R.A.M, Maria Assunta Menniti. Local institutions of the Calabria Region were also represented by Dr. Gregorio Muzzi, member of the Regional Observatory for Biodiversity, and the Port Authority, with the commander Lieutenant of Vascello Matteo Verrigni.
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