I have the opportunity of starting my first blog entry with really good news! Last Thursday 17th of July the Spanish Government approved the designation of 39 marine SPAs, adding almost 50.000 km2 to the existing Nature 2000 network at sea in Spain. This represents a 20-fold increase in the surface of marine SPAs, and brings hope for the effective protection of our most threatened seabirds.
The proposal is the result of 10 years of work of SEO/BirdLife and the whole BirdLife partnership, as well as many, many, many collaborators. Two LIFE projects are behind these efforts: “Important Bird Areas for seabirds (marine IBAs) in Spain” (2004-2009) and “INDEMARES” (2009-2014). In addition, the Interreg FAME project (2010-2014) has also contributed to this final outcome. Special mention deserves SPEA, who developed a sister LIFE project to identify the marine IBAs in Portugal (2004-2008).
Behind the proposal lay hundreds of unforgettable days at sea counting seabirds (over 60,000 km) and in seabird colonies tagging birds to track their movements, plus even more time devoted to data analysis, technical and political meetings, participative workshops,… The process was frustrating in occasions, but overall it has been an exciting time, and we must congratulate all of us for the acheivement. Next step, the management plans!
Pep Arcos, Coordinator of the Marine Programme of SEO/BirdLife