BOV supports LIFE+ Migrate Project for Dolphins and Turtles

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BOV supports LIFE+ Migrate Project for Dolphins and TurtlesFishermen, leisure boat owners, divers and other sea enthusiasts, attended an information and training session about the Life+ Project Migrate at Bank of Valletta’s Head Office in Santa Venera.

LIFE+ Migrate Project aims to carry out studies on the population of the bottlenose dolphin (id-denfil ta’ geddumu qasir) and the loggerhead turtle (il-fekruna tal-bahar) within Maltese waters and the type of local habitat which may be essential for their survival.

“Bank of Valletta is committed to support the local environment,” said Charles Borg, CEO at Bank of Valletta in his opening address during the information session. “While undergoing various exercises to minimise its impact on the environment, the Bank has committed its support to this project and is urging the public to actively participate to make this project a success.”BOV supports LIFE+ Migrate Project for Dolphins and TurtlesDetails of the project were given by MEPA representative: Carmen Mifsud, Senior Environment Protection Officer at the Environment Protection Directorate. This project, with a budget of almost €1 million, co-financed by the EU LIFE+ programme, is envisaged to involve the general public, particularly the sea-users in the data gathering part. Sea-users form an essential network for this project in view of the lack of comprehensive data regarding these species.

Volunteers can contribute by providing Life+ with sightings of dolphins and turtles when they encounter these animals, including details of position, sea and wind state, and any other relevant information. This information may be sent to Life+ on LIFEMigrateTeam@mepa.org.mt and/or emergency phone number: 99210404.

Volunteers are being provided with specific training in order to allow them to record sightings effectively and this seminar is the beginning of this training to the general public. The data will be collected over three years and specific scientific surveys will also be carried out through the help of international experts from Spain. . Any information that sea-users can contribute will thus prove invaluable when it comes to monitoring the dolphin and turtle populations and drawing up conservation strategies.

Carmen said that, “MEPA has teamed up with the Spanish interdisciplinary research team KAI Marine Services to carry out this project and gather the necessary scientific data on these species. The loggerhead turtle and the bottlenose dolphins, among others, are protected by the EU legislation as well as through several international agreements to which Malta is a party and therefore Malta has a legal obligation to ensure that these important marine migratory species are protected adequately.

“Such adequate protection can only be done if we know enough details about their local populations and areas which are essential to them.”

Carmen concluded, “being a maritime nation we have a duty to protect our marine biodiversity for the benefit of the present and future generations. We need to give more importance to conserving concretely these fascinating flagship creatures and the way to conserve them is to primarily gather more details on their populations and ascertain that they get protected in any habitats they have preference for or in any particular migratory routes or feeding grounds they may occupy.”

Anyone interested in following this project or participating as volunteers may contact the project team via email on LIFEMigrateTeam@mepa.org.mt or access the website on www.lifeprojectmigrate.com.

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