PROTECTING DOLPHINS AND TURTLES AROUND THE MALTESE WATERS
The Malta Environment and Planning Authority (MEPA) has managed to secure €1 million in funds to embark on a project aimed at significantly improving the protection of the bottlenose dolphin (id-denfil ta’ geddumu qasir) and the loggerhead turtle (il-fekruna l-komuni) around the Maltese waters.
Although both these species are protected by the EU legislation, as well as numerous other multilateral agreements to which Malta is a party, conservation policies and measures only become effective when quality data is made available. At present, there is a lack of comprehensive information regarding these species and the type of habitat around the Maltese waters that are essential for their survival.
The project, which is being co-financed by the European Commission’s LIFE fund, will result in the collection of important marine data which should close knowledge gaps so as to find out more about the conservation status of these two species and any important areas for the continuation of their life cycle. The project should also lead to the identification of potential feeding areas or important migratory routes for these species, if these are found to be present in Malta, following which these important sites will become protected.
For this project, MEPA has teamed up with KAI Marine Services (Spain), a marine conservation firm which will be contributing financially towards the project and sharing its extensive expertise in helping to identify the crucial areas for these species. This project, which will span over 3 years, is also being co-financed by the Ministry for Tourism, Culture and the Environment and Bank of Valletta.
Mr Charles Azzopardi from Bank of Valletta said "Our Bank's support towards this project is part of its Corporate Social Responsibility environmental programme," He added "Bank of Valletta is more than a major financial institutions in our country. We play an important role in the community in which we operate. This project continues to consolidate BOV's commitment towards the improvement of our environment through the conservation of these species."
MEPA will also be involving the general public, including boat owners and other sea users, who would like to participate in this conservation initiative. This will help part of the project’s actions, whereby we will be collecting more information about these amazing creatures that inhabit our waters.