The goal of Oceana in Europe's 2015 expedition in Malta was to survey areas and identify new sites of community importance (SCIs) to include within the Natura 2000 network. Oceana mapped sandbanks, reefs and marine caves throughout the expedition that was part of the LIFE BaĦAR for N2K project (2013-2018), an initiative co-financed by the EU LIFE funding programme.
Natura 2000 is a network of protected areas throughout the EU and it is considered the largest coherent group of protected areas in the world. It aims at protecting Europe’s most vulnerable and threatened species and habitats.
Executive Summary: Benthic Habitat Research for Marine Natura 2000 Site Designation
Thanks to Oceana’s efforts as part of the LIFE BaĦAR for N2K project, the Maltese government announced the designation or expansion of eight marine protected areas in the Mediterranean in June of 2018. As a designation made under the Natura 2000 framework, national authorities are now responsible for drafting a management plan within six years – a key step toward ensuring the continued protection of these areas.