San Lawrenz LC undertakes management of Dwejra Centre
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The Local Council of San Lawrenz, Gozo, held a seminar on Monday as part of a project funded under the Italia-Malta Programme, Cohesion Policy 2007-2013 entitled P.A.N.A.C.E.A – Promozione Aree Naturali Attraverso Centri di Educazione Ambientale (the Protection, Conservation and Promotion of National Parks, Reserves and Protected Areas).
The P.A.N.A.C.E.A project aims to promote the sound scientific management of biodiversity assets within Maltese and Sicilian marine protected areas, through the setting up of Marine Environmental Educational Centres.
The Chairman of the Malta Environment and Planning Authority (MEPA), Architect Vincent Cassar, discussed the Dwejra Management Plan and sustainability issues of the centre, and announced that the management agreement between MEPA and the Local Council, which is meant to entrust the Local Council with the management of the Dwejra Centre, was due to be signed that same week.
The Local Council hailed this as a very good piece of news which will give the Centre a new lease of life. The seminar was chaired by Mr Noel Formosa, who had seen the project at its inception when he was then the Mayor of San Lawrenz.
The first such Centre was opened in Dwejra, San Lawrenz, Gozo, and the Centre houses a number of fish and plant specimens and replicas that are found, in particular, in the areas of Rdum Majjiesa, Malta, and Dwejra, Gozo. In the Centre various information panels, dioramas and an audio-visual interactive panel illustrate and provide further information to visitors.
Project P.A.N.A.C.E.A is being implemented in partnership between the Local Council of San Lawrenz, the University of Malta, the Province of Siracusa (Sicily), the Province of Palermo (Sicily) and the Municipality of Lampedusa (Italy).
During the seminar a number of presentations were given by university academics and representatives from the diving industry. A welcome address was delivered by the Mayor of San Lawrenz, Mr Anthony Formosa. The project was introduced by Dr Alan Deidun, Senior Lecturer from the Physical Oceanography Unit, Unversity of Malta, who is the local scientific co-ordinator of the project.
The seminar saw the screening of two underwater documentaries that were filmed during the project, copies of which were given to each participant of the seminar.
A representative from the Ministry for Gozo, Dr Grazio Mercieca, Chief Head of Staff, discussed the importance of tourism to Gozo and overall economic growth objectives.
Topics covered in the seminar included the importance of environmental awareness and attitude, in particular the shift from environmental information to environmental education, presented by Prof. Paul Pace, Director for the Centre for Environmental Education and Research, University of Malta.
A presentation was also given on sustainable tourism aspects for Gozo, delivered by Prof. Lino Briguglio, Director for the Institute for Islands and Small States, University of Malta.
Moving on to the local diving industry, Mr Patrick Vella, from SalpaSub, delivered a presentation on the importance of environmental education to the local diving industry.
Overall various speakers highlighted the importance of the Centre in contributing to environmental educational objectives, to attain the protection and stewardship of the marine environment.
The seminar ended with a visit to the Dwejra Marine Environmental Education Centre, where a talk and closing speech was delivered on site by Dr Alan Deidun on the underwater marine environment of the Maltese Islands.
The Dwejra Marine Environmental Education Centre is currently open to the public during weekdays from 11.00am to 3.00pm.