NEW PROPOSED MEASURES TO CONSERVE ‘CERNA’ AROUND MALTESE WATERS
The analysis of the local grouper population and protection of its important habitats are among a number of proposed measures that seek to enhance and protect the dusky grouper (Maltese: iċ-ċerna) population. These measures are outlined in a three year action plan the Malta Environment and Planning Authority (MEPA) has published for public consultation with the aim of better conserving and managing the grouper population in Maltese waters.
The dusky grouper is one of the important flagship species of Mediterranean rocky coastal habitats, and has recently been classified by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as a threatened species on the basis of the rate of decline of its populations.Although over the past years a number of legislative measures that may indirectly be helping to safeguard the groupers’ population and its habitat have been introduced, the Authority felt the need that a targeted species action plan, which will help address the sustainable management of this species.
Senior Environment Protection Officer Carmen Mifsud said, “During the first phase of this three-year action plan we will primarily be focusing on ensuring that all the necessary policy and legislative measures for the protection of this species are in place, coupled with the collection of data to assess the dynamics of the groupers’ populations status through various research and monitoring programmes. Finally, in our third year we will implement a number of management measures while increasing public awareness throughout the programme on the conservation of this species.”
The proposed action plan as proposed should not be implemented by the Authority alone, but should see the direct involvement of other entities and stakeholders at various phases. EPD senior officer Carmen Mifsud concludes: “We are planning to engage various stakeholders. Voluntary divers from diving clubs or centres will also play an important part in this project.”
The public and all interested parties especially from the fishing and diving communities are being invited to participate and give their feedback and suggestions to this draft action plan. The plan can be viewed from the Authority’s website at www.mepa.org.mt/public-consultation. Submissions can be sent by email to email@example.com by not later than 06th June 2012.