Malta Expands Habitat Protections in Mediterranean
The government of Malta has announced the designation or expansion of eight marine protected areas in the Mediterranean. This announcement is the result of Oceana efforts that began in 2013, and the protections are based on the findings of two Oceana expeditions (2015 and 2016 LIFE BaĦAR Expeditions). Oceana mapped out sandbanks, reefs and more than 89 marine caves through use of a Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) and scuba divers. After collecting and analyzing 310 hours of ROV footage and thousands of photos, we delivered a list of proposed sites for protection to the Maltese government that included seagrass meadows, bamboo coral gardens and habitat for cnidarians, sponges, a variety of other invertebrates and fish. With these new measures, 35 percent of Malta’s waters are now protected. 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.
Oceana Wins Protection for Essential Fish Habitats in the Strait of Sicily
Following campaigning by Oceana, three Fisheries Restricted Areas were created by the General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean (GFCM) in the Strait of Sicily, protecting 1,493 square km between Italy, Malta and Tunisia from bottom trawling and preserving nursery areas. By preserving these areas, essential fish habitats for commercial fisheries stocks, a key step has been made towards rebuilding the stock of hake – the most overfished species in the Mediterranean – and preserving the home to over 60% of the deep-sea rose shrimps caught in this sea. This is the first time management measures for shared stocks have been undertaken in the central Mediterranean, it is an historical step.
Dinamarca protege ecosistemas clave en el Kattegat
El Gobierno danés publica la decisión, largamente esperada, de declarar nuevas áreas marinas protegidas en el estrecho del Kattegat. Estas áreas protegerán hábitats y especies frágiles y amenazadas de fondos blandos, como plumas de mar y Haploops, que carecen de protección en la mayor parte de aguas europeas. La superficie declarada alcanza un total de 590 km2, fragmentados en nueve regiones. Cuando entren en vigor, las áreas protegidas actuarán de defensa de ecosistemas de gran importancia para mantener la salud de las poblaciones de peces.
Protecting Habitat in the Atlantic
Capping a five-year effort, Oceana helped persuade the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council to protect 59,000km2 of valuable deep-sea corals stretching from North Carolina to Florida by banning all bottom trawl activity in the area. Known as America’s largest continuous deep sea coral ecosystem, the area includes hundreds of pinnacles up to 500 feet tall and provides critical fish habitat for commercially valuable species like snapper, grouper, wreckfish, royal red shrimp and golden crab. Closing the area to bottom trawling will help ensure the long-term productivity of these species. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration now must approve the plan.
Beginning November 2009, bottom trawls and dredges will be prohibited in four deepwater canyons along the US Atlantic coast – a move that will protect the Atlantic tilefish fishery but that will also preserve a rich ecosystem that supports lobster, deep sea corals and sponges living in the canyons. Oceana pushed the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council to close the canyons (Oceanographer, Lydonia, Veatch and Norfolk), which range from Massachusetts to Virginia.
Spain will protect marine habitats
In honor of World Environment Day on June 5th and to implement the European Union’s commitment with the Convention on Biological Diversity, the Spanish government announced the creation of ten new Marine Protected Areas in Spain’s Exclusive Economic Zone. Oceana has played a key role in identifying and proposing protections for marine areas of interest in an effort led by the Spanish government to implement the European Union’s biodiversity goals.
Future transboundary French-Spanish MPA
The Spanish Ministry of Enviroment and Rural and Marine Affairs start cooperating with France to declare a cross-border marine protected area at Creus Cap waters together with the Marine Protected Park existent at French waters. Oceana has studied this marine area and has provided to the Spanish Government this scientific information to ask for this protection.
Limiting destructive trawling in Europe
After two years of intensive lobbying by Oceana in Brussels and Madrid, the European Union prohibited destructive fishing practices, including bottom trawling, which destroys important marine habitat, in over 160 million acres around the Azores, Madeira and the Canary Islands. The area protected covers an area larger than France.