Protecting seabirds in the Mediterranean: Advancing the Marine Protected Area Network
An international workshop on Marine Important Bird Areas in Malta and the Mediterranean was held between the 23rd – 25th November 2015 by the LIFE+ Malta Seabird Project and BirdLife International. The workshop was a key opportunity to gather knowledge and experience on protecting seabirds across national boundaries and international waters of the Mediterranean as well as set the way forward for international collaborations in protecting our common seabird heritage.
Within the Mediterranean seabirds face threats both on land and at sea, such as overfishing, by-catch, invasive predators, habitat destruction from poor planning and marine pollution. However only 4% of the Mediterranean is currently protected through the EU Natura 2000 network in Europe and the Barcelona Convention’s Specially Protected Areas of Mediterranean Importance. At a regional scale there are still many important gaps to fill in the protected area network for seabirds, particularly for sites at sea. The meeting enabled scientists, nature conservationists and policy makers to further coordinate efforts for seabird protection at a regional scale through capacity building and the sharing of specialist knowledge.
The meeting started with the presentation of a draft inventory of Marine Important Bird Areas for seabirds in Maltese and international waters identified under the LIFE+ Malta Seabird Project. This was then followed by sessions on knowledge sharing and gap analysis for the entire Mediterranean region, identifying sites within and beyond national jurisdiction, priority areas and policy mechanisms from across the Mediterranean.