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Coconet Project  continues to call for action for the future of  the Mediterranean and Black Seas (released July 2012)

The CoCoNET Project, (Coast to Coast NETworks), which involves more than 400 researchers from 39 institutions, kicked off on Feb. 27 in Rome. After the kick off meeting, representatives of the program gather in Istanbul on May 7 and briefed the press members about the project.

The press meeting hosted by Dr. Ferdinando Boero, coordinator of the project and coordinator for the National Research Council of Italy and Dr. Bayram Öztürk, work package 7 leader, a professor of marine sciences at Istanbul University and chair of the Turkish Marine Research Foundation (TUDAV).

Dr.Boero had explained the importance of the Mediterranean to the press members and also gave details about the CoCoNET project.

The Malta team was represented at this meeting by Prof Patrick J. Schembri.


Scientists Are Searching for the Genetical Codes of the Mediterranean and Black Sea (released July 2012)

The CoCoNET Project (Coast to Coast NETworks) which aims to increase the number of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) in the Mediterranean and Black Sea is proceeding with workshops to identify the physical and biological connections between the two seas.

Executive Summary of the workshop on "Synthesis on knowledge on genetic connectivity in Mediterranean and Black Sea" held on 11th-13th June 2012 at Institud d'Estudis Catalans, Barcelona, Spain.

Genetic connectivity has been studied in different species along the area, with different markers and at various geographical scales. However, the information gained through those studies has not been integrated and related to the features of connectivity identified by modeling efforts as essential to resilience.

The Workshop aimed in the first place, to identify the existing network of connectivity using similar approaches in both the Mediterranean and Black Sea. For that purpose, the existing knowledge concerning genetic connectivity and biodiversity distribution was combined with new coordinated investigations using the concerted protocols in the Mediterranean and Black Sea. 

Another important goal of the workshop was to assess the current effectiveness of the present MPA network, and then, to provide useful hints for the improvement of MPA networks in the Mediterranean and Black Sea for more effective conservation. In that context, the identification of areas and taxon groups lacking genetic studies, but fundamental to assess connectivity in the study region, has been overviewed during the workshop. 

The Malta team was represented at this workshop by Julian Evans.


Connecting To Design Better MPA Networks (released October 2012)

The workshop on "Species distribution, beta diversity and connectivity" was held in Castiglioncello (Livorno, Italy) between the 16th and 18th of October 2012.

The main objective of the workshop was to synthesize available information on species distribution, beta diversity, biogeography and connectivity to design better MPA networks.

With the participation of 24 scientists from 9 countries this main objevtive has been discussed from different point of views and very efficient agreements were ensured. Although the general patterns of species richness and distribution have been synthesized recently for the Mediterranean, it was emphasized that a new contribution on species diversity and connectivity should be based on beta diversity and provide links with potentially important environmental drivers.

A preliminary analysis of data on benthic algae and invertebrates indicated that a 50% decay of similarity in species composition may be expected at the spatial scale of about 600 km for the Mediterranean case study. This figure will be refined with the analysis of additional data to assist decisions on site location and spacing in the Mediterranean Sea and Black Sea case studies.

A template for data organization was agreed upon and this will be further refined and circulated among participants for data sharing. It was agreed that the deadline for contributing data for WP3 Task 2 activities is March 31 2013. Policy rules for data sharing and use have been discussed and a general agreement was achieved also. 

The Malta team was represented in this workshop by Julian Evans.


Virtual focused workshop on best practices for the management of MPAs network monitoring and management effectiveness (released November 2012)

Virtual Focused Workshop on Best Practices for the Management of MPAs Network Monitoring and Management Effectiveness took place from 5 to 16 November, 2012. It was organized by Paul Goriup and Melanie Gammon (NatureBureau) and 36 researchers from 18 institutions took part in the workshop.

The aims of this workshop were (i) to review and subsequently agree on the procedures for gathering and sharing MPA management data in the Mediterranean and Black Seas; and (ii) to review international best practice management guidelines, with a view to identifying the methods that can be used to analyze current management systems (including indicator based monitoring) for sites and networks of sites.

The workshop focused on the key components for management and/or monitoring marine protected areas, methodologies can be used to assess the effectiveness of current management systems, information required to produce guidance documents for management and monitoring of networks of MPAs and best practices for managing and monitoring marine protected areas, especially as networks. A wide range of case studies were shared among the participants, ranging from Malta and UK to the Philippines and Canada. 

The Malta team was represented in this workshop by Julian Evans.


Virtual Workshop on Multi Scale Basin-wide Circulations (released December 2012)

One of the important CoCoNet workshops on "Multi scale basin-wide circulations" was organized by Antonio Felice Petrillo (CoNISMa) and took place between 26 November and 4 December, 2012. It was attended by 37 researchers from 18 institutions in 9 countries. During this virtual workshop, it was aimed to collect and discuss existing knowledge on multi scale basin-wide circulations in Mediterranean and Black Sea, to collect the workshop participants information on mathematical models of circulation and diffusion of the various parameters on their calibration and their performance, to define the mathematical models best suited to achieve the objectives of the CoCoNet Project. The workshop was organized as four sessions, such as Ocean Circulation Models (OCM), Coupled Transport-Ecological Model (CTEM) - Modelling impacts of climate change and climate variability on ocean circulation and ocean ecological properties. Most suitable models on hydrodynamic and environmental dynamics with respect to present and potential distribution of MPAs were discussed. Data analyses (including long time series of ocean data and satellite remote sensing derived information) of the most important parameters are to be considered in CoCoNet Project.

A wide range of case studies were shared among the participants, focusing such as analysed objectives, domain examined, spatial and temporal resolution; available/required knowledge; parameterization; computational requirement; computation time; input and output data; model calibration by field data.

The state of the know-how on the circulation of the main physical, chemical, biological and geological parameters in the Mediterranean and Black Sea by the expertises of all participants, and a preliminary selection of software on hydrodynamic and environmental dynamics to be used in CoCoNet were discussed. 

The Malta team was represented in this workshop by Kimberly Terribile. 


Final Year Study (released December 2012) 

The CoCoNET Project (Coast to Coast NETworks of Marine Protected Areas Coupled with Sea-ased Wind Energy Potential) which aims to increase the number of Marine Protected Areas (MPA) in the Mediterranean and Black Sea and to display the potential of the off-shore wind farm in these seas started with the kick-off meeting in Rome on 27-28 February 2012.

A four-year-project CoCoNET is the second biggest marine research project of EU under the 7th Framework Programme with a budget of € 9 million. The project includes 22 countries and involves more than 400 researchers from 39 institutions, covering a vast array of subjects, developing a timely holistic approach and integrating the Mediterranean and Black Seas scientific communities through intense collective activities with stakeholders and the public at large.

Dr. Ferdinando Boero (Project Leader) stated: There are two ideas behind this CoCoNET Project. The first is to develop a network of Marine Protected Areas, which are closed areas where you can protect marine areas and better manage activities instead of having smaller Marine Protected Areas. The idea is to have a network of different protected areas to link them together to be more efficient. The second idea is to combine the project with wind energy as finding renewable energy sources is one of the main challenges of modern societies.

Some of the highlights of CoCoNet activities are as follows:  

  • CoCoNet website was launched in March 2012 (link here), which features the details of the project, participants, various meetings and workshops. A poster and a brochure were produced to explain the project, mainly its concept and purpose. They were translated into local languages to be shared by wider range of people in each country
  • During the first year of the project, several workshops and one summer school were organized. ·        
  • There are two pilot projects in CoCoNet; one in the Adriatic Sea and the other in the western Black Sea. To harmonize all activities to be realized in the second and third year of CoCoNet, a joint meeting for pilot projects was held in Istanbul, July 2012.  
  • As a desemmination activity, CoCoNet representatives participated to celebrate the Interational Black Sea Day on 31 October 2012 in Batumi, Gerogia.  
  • MedPAN (Network of Marine Protected Area Managers in the Mediterranean) has a strong tie with CoCoNet. It shares the idea of establishing networks of Marine Protected Areas (MPA's) in the whole Mediterranean Sea. In that scope, some of CoCoNet partners participated MedPAN Forum 2012 held in Antalya, Turkey, 25-28 November 2012. Antalya Declaration was made towards a comprehensive, ecologically representative, effectively connected and efficiently managed network of Mediterranean MPA's by 2020. 
CoCoNet will continue evolving at full speed, with many activities in the second year, 2013, including two pilot projects.

For more information, please visit the CoCoNet website here.


First CoCoNet General Assembly (released January 2013).

Over 100 experts gathered to evaluate the activities of the first year of CoCoNet at the General Assembly held at CNR Sede Centrale, Rome on 29-30 January 2013. The in-depth discussion was made by the Black Sea and Mediterranean experts to achieve the ultimate goal of CoCoNet, the scientific and managerial connectivity of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs). The first year was spent mostly to establish the scientific base of the project and to build a collaborative network of researchers in the region, north and south, east and west, through a number of workshops and meetings. These scientific bases will be tried upon for the pilot projects in the Adriatic Sea and the Western Black Sea during the coming two years. Therefore, both Adriatic and Black Sea pilot project teams exchanged information for their surveys for habitat mapping and genetic studies which will take place this summer.

The Malta team was represented at this General Assembly by Prof Patrick J. Schembri.

Copies of these press releases can be accessed from here. 

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Last Updated: 1 March 2013

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