The Menorca Biosphere Reserve’s project MAREBI to promote 10 conservation and outreach actions on the island’s marine environment has been approved

With a budget of 86,000 €, the project receives funds from the Pleamar Programme from the Fundación Biodiversidad to carry out studies on the seabed, monitoring of marine species and outreach actions

3/12/2020

The Balearic Islands are one of most touristic regions of the Mediterranean area. For its part, the island of Menorca is a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve since 1993, and in 2019 it expanded its marine area to become the biosphere reserve with the largest marine area in the Mediterranean. Biosphere reserves represent an excellent opportunity as active learning places on sustainable development. 


The Fundación Biodiversidad is a public foundation attached to the Ministry for the Ecological Transition and the Demographic Challenge, whose goal is to preserve biodiversity and promote green economy and employment. It participates in the programming of the 2014-2020 structural funds in the application of the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) in Spain by managing part of this community grant, which aims to promote the environmental aspect of the Common Fisheries Policy.

For this, the Fundación Biodiversidad has launched the Pleamar Programme, to be executed within the period 2017-2023 to promote innovative projects directed at the protection and recovery of the marine biodiversity, the collection of waste from the sea, the improvement of knowledge and management of the Spanish protected areas, the reduction of by-catches and the use of discarded fish, the promotion and support of sustainable aquaculture, advice on environmental aspects, as well as the reinforcement of the collaboration between the scientific community and the fisheries and aquaculture sectors. 

MAREBI Project

During 2020, the Department of Environment and Biosphere Reserve of the Menorca Island Council presented the project entitled “Management of marine protected areas in an insular Biosphere Reserve (MAREBI)” that has been approved by the Fundación Biodiversidad, from the Ministry for Ecological Transition and the Demographic Challenge, through the Pleamar Programme, co-financed by the EMFF. 

This project aims to make the marine tourism in Menorca compatible with the conservation of the protected marine zones of the island (Natural Park, areas within the Natura 2000 Network, Marine Reserves and Biosphere Reserve). It has a duration of one year, until the end of November 2021, and has a total budget of 86,817.50 €, 75% of which comes from the subsidy received and the remaining 25% from the Menorca Island Council. 

The MAREBI project comprises ten actions to be carried out, including research actions to better know some ecosystems and species in order to improve their management, and communication and outreach actions to promote this heritage, its importance and threats. 

The actions to be carried out are detailed below:

1) Baseline study for the definition of vulnerable marine areas within the Natura 2000 Network

This activity aims to know the existing threats and factors that affect some of the marine areas of the Nature 2000 Network on the Menorca Biosphere Reserve in order to determine their vulnerability degree. The works will be focused in two Natura 2000 Network areas that are also Marine Reserves (SCI ES5310035 Marine Area of the North of Menorca and SCI ES5310073 Marine Area Punta Prima – Illa de l’Aire). 

2) Mapping of the detailed bionomic cartography of Natura 2000 Network areas 

The aim of this action is to know with higher detail the seabed, and therefore the habitats and the conservation status, of areas detected as more vulnerable and for which there is no updated information. In order to do this, a detailed bionomic cartography of areas protected by the Natura 2000 Network will be performed for the SCI ES5310035 Marine Area of the North of Menorca, which is also a Marine Reserve.

3) Monitoring of seabirds for its use as indicators of the conservation status of the marine environment

Its objective is to define a monitoring program for the European shag, the Audouin’s gull and the yellow-legged gull to be used as indicators of the conservation status of the marine environment. The reproductive populations of these species in all of the island’s coast will also be monitored, by quantifying the populations and their demographic parameters. 

4) Monitoring of Cymodocea nodosa seagrass meadows for its use as indicators of the conservation status of the marine environment and the impacts affecting it

The seagrass meadows of Cymodocea nodosa will be monitored. The objective of this action is to define a monitoring program of seagrass meadows of this species that can be used as an indicator of the conservation status of the marine environment. Moreover, a study will be carried out to determine its distribution through transects through scuba diving between the port of Maó and the port of Sanitja, which includes the following Natura 2000 Network areas: ES5310072 Caleta de Binillautí (SCI), ES0000234 S’Albufera des Grau (SCI, SPA), ES0000233 D’Addaia a s’Albufera (SCI, SPA), ES5310071 Cala en Brut (SCI), ES5310070 Punta Redona – Arenal d’en Castell (SCI) and ES5310035 Marine Area of the North of Menorca (SCI).

Among the planned actions for the communication and outreach of the values and threats of the marine environment are the following:

5) Film series about the marine environment to raise the awareness of the general population

This activity is intended to bring the Menorcan society, through a visual and attractive way, closer to the natural values of the marine environment of the Menorca Biosphere Reserve, as well as the main threats affecting them. Additionally, which personal and collective practices and actions collaborate or not in the conservation of the marine environment will be conveyed. 

6) Edition of a best practices’ booklet for sailors, to spread practices respectful with activities performed at sea

A document compiling practices respectful with the marine environment will be edited, to be followed by users of boats and activities related to the sea. All of this material will be published in the Menorca Biosphere Reserve website, accessible to all those interested. At least 2,000 leaflets will be printed and distributed among the target public. 

7) Organization of school workshops on marine issues

Assorted material will be edited, directed at raising awareness and environmental education within classrooms regarding the value of the natural marine resources of the island, main associated problematics and conservation needs. Later, a workshop on marine aspects will be offered to the island’s school centres, to be carried out during the 2020-21 school year. 

8) Reporters of the marine environment on beaches (for residents and visitants) 

This action aims to have a team of two people that, through in situ work at the beaches of Menorca, can inform and answer the queries of the users of this environment so closely related with the marine areas and the impacts these suffer. It represents a perfect place where contextualization of the problematic associated with the marine environment allow for the information to easily reach the public, in this case, mainly tourists.
On the other hand, the availability of two people in the beaches of Menorca will also allow to obtain data on the pressures affecting these areas (in relation with the density of users per m2 of beach) and whether these exceed their load capacity. In total, it will consist on two months of daily field work informing users (mainly tourists) of the island’s beaches on marine aspects and gathering information on the occupation of these. 

9) Cycle of conferences and round tables on the management of marine ecosystems

The main goal of this activity is to gather in a single meeting place the general public and the main agents involved with the marine environment (both protection and environmental organizations, Fishermen’s Guilds and scientific entities) to share the most problematic aspects, needs and opportunities regarding the sustainable management of marine ecosystems. These will be carried out not only to share information and experience, but also to reach conclusions and contribute to the decision-making process in a more clear and effective way. 

10) Actions to disseminate the project (press, web, social networks, seminars) 

Two dissemination lines are proposed, one on a more local level, and the other at national and international level. For the local line, at least two press conferences will be held, first for presenting the project and its characteristics, and another at the end of the project to present its main results. Additionally, at least two press reports will be performed on the different actions being carried out. All actions of the project will be publicized through social networks, published at the websites of the Menorca Island Council and of the Menorca Biosphere Reserve, where a specific webpage will be set up. 

At national and international levels, the website of the World Network of Island and Coastal Biosphere Reserves, from which the Menorca Island Council is one of the organizing entities, will be used, as well as the magazine of the Spanish Biosphere Reserves, to disseminate the project and the results obtained. Lastly, a seminar of coordination will be held between the managers of the different protected areas of Menorca with which the MAREBI project will work with, to share information on each action. 

DESMARES Project

MAREBI will be the second project from Menorca approved by the Fundación Biodiversidad. During 2020, the Menorca Island Council, also through the Department of Environment and Biosphere Reserve, is participating as partner in a Pleamar Programme project entitled “Making artisanal fishing compatible with the European shag in protected areas: sustainable fishing and bioindicators in a context of cooperation (DESMARES)”. The project, in which the University of Girona, the Institut de Ciències del Mar (ICM-CSIC) and the Spanish Society of Ornithology (SEO) work together, aims to make artisanal fishing, particularly when using fishing nets, sustainable and compatible with the conservation of the European shag, which is listed as vulnerable in Europe


 MAREBI PROJECT PLEAMAR PROGRAM FUNDACIÓN BIODIVERSIDAD

 
Agència Menorca Reserva de Biosfera - Departament de Medi Ambient i Reserva de Biosfera - Consell Insular de Menorca
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