Malta live blog Day 3: International workshop on Marine Protected Areas

18.14 “Without data, you’re just a person with an opinion” – a good conclusion to continue the amazing work that has been presented in the last 3 days, where we now come out with a lot of positive energy and concrete steps forward. Over and out!

Banner by Luis Martínez

17.18 The workshop is now coming to an end. We have had discussions between governments, NGOs, about conservation actions needs and policy measures, from seabirds to learning what’s worked for marine mammals.

It seems that the seabird community is a very coordinated group! So kudos to all. And as Julien from the MAVA foundation says “Go Seabirds”. We whole-heartedly share that message!


17.04 In the eastern Med, the Yelkouan Shearwater seems to be a good indicator species to understand the interaction between Mediterranean Sea and the Black Sea.

First up is compile all the information that is already there. It might seem strange, but if the data is sitting in different computers, there won’t be a coherent analysis. So just coming together “online” is a big step. It also seems that there needs to have a census across the region, as well as building a network of observers.

Yelkouan Shearwater, a good indicator species

16.57 Priority number one in the western Mediterranean is to work in Northern Africa to help map colonies and carry out threat assessments. This means mixing different countries and helping in training and skills building.

Priority number two is dealing with the bycatch for the Yelkouan and Balearic Shearwater. First starting with assessment by interviews with fishers, then having observers on boats, then testing mitigation gears.

16.49 In the Ionian sea, they want to identify priority sites for breeding and foraging by standardising the methodology and building a complete database of where seabirds are mainly congregating. Furthermore, it seems that fisheries interaction on seabirds is a priority especially with working with observers on boat.

16.39 Reflections from group discussions: It seems that in the central Mediterranean, monitoring methodology training is important – sharing the skills from the north to those in the south. This includes boat survey and bird ringing.

13.32 Participants are now in breakout groups to discuss in more details how to put together transboundary sites within sub regions. Let’s make it happen is the attitude here! Very glad to see the collaboration accross countries and experts. We even have Mike from the Marine Mammals Task Force to help develop ideas.

Interestingly, this task force has produced a global map of marine mammals protected areas mimicking the work BirdLife has done with the marine e-atlas.


12.42 A transboundary Marine Protected Area between France, Monaco and Italy has already been created for marine mammals. The Pelagos Sanctuary is an example that it is possible to get joint working methodology and organisation between different countries. One of the actions they are committed to is for municipalities to reduce their pollution. Biggest challenge? Harmonise the cooperation. Easier if you have common (international) funds and not national funds.

12.29 Daniel Cebrian from the Barcelona convention, explains how they have been trying to get governments to agree on marine protected areas. What is this convention I speak of?

The Barcelona convention is a a regional agreement that Mediterranean countries have signed up to. This includes developing methods to protect the nature of the Mediterranean Sea as well as reports for the region that allows us to understand what is happening in this region!

A priority for them is to identify hotspots at high seas – areas where there is no national jurisdiction and a “free for all” – and then identify threats. Further using the Ecologically and Biologically Significant Areas (EBSAs) process, we can look forward to marine protected areas at high seas.

10.36 Seabirds don’t follow national boundaries, and we have just heard 6 different cases of how seabirds are law breakers! Interesting presentation from Algeria where they explain how very small islands where they have 1200 breeding pairs of shearwaters are important for Tunisian, Moroccan and Libyan populations.

Maria from BirdLife International explains the seabird tracking website and how to use to see what birds are up to. Check it out here!


9.31 Day 3 of the Marine Malta workshop is all about transboundary marine protected areas. You wonder what these are and why they are important? Seabirds might be breeding in one country but might forage and feed in another country.

Pep Arcos from SEO/ BirdLife Spain explains the tracking data they have gathered for their seabirds where a lot of their birds are foraging in Morocco. So together with Sidi Imad Cherkaoui of GREPOM/ BirdLife Morocco, they are discussing a macaronesian Marine Protected Area that expands accounts for Canary Islands and Morocco. Seabirds have no boundaries!

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