The Maltese Scientific Cetacean Field Research Project
2007, The Tenth Anniversary of the Maltese Cetacean Scientific Field Research Project, run by Adriana Vella (University of Malta & BICREF) coincides with the tenth anniversary of the ACCOBAMS, which is Agreement on the Conservation of Cetaceans in the Black Sea, Mediterranean Sea and contiguous Atlantic area. Both Dr. Vella’s Conservation Research Group at the University of Malta and BICREF are partners of the ACCOBAMS community to promote dolphin and whale conservation in the region.
In the framework of the activities to celebrate ACCOBAMS’ Tenth anniversary, one of the main events will be held on 17th September. A natural-size dolphin-shaped statue (2,30 mt) will be submerged in Monaco’s Larvotto in collaboration with various Monegasque enterprises. The importance of such event is emphasised by the large number of personalities who already showed their enthusiasm and willing to participate. The event will be under the aegis of H.R.H. Albert II, who will honour the event with his presence. This event represents a crucial step in the issue of public awareness: the statue will be dedicated to the late memory of the beloved Rainer III, who passed away in 2005. The sculpture will be placed at an easily reachable depth, so that even children attending diving courses will be able to plunge to pay their homage.
Dr. Vella has been running this University field research project through the assistance of various entities that made this project able to continue for ten years, these include the MMA which has proved vital in offshore work, essential for this conservation research project. Kind sea-users, fishermen and the AFM also play an important role when ever forwarding detailed information on any sightings out at sea.
Locally BICREF has been giving its full support toward promoting the needs and benefits of cetacean conservation research and awareness through various projects, including: the first ever dolphin photographic exhibition that has been roving from hotels, to schools, to public venues since its launch in 2001; features, interviews and documentaries that also featured dolphin conservation; local awareness toward the wrong importation of wild dolphins for captivity; BICREF’s assistance in coastal observations was also possible with the sponsorship of a dinghy by MECCA and General Soft Drinks Ltd.; Regional and International awareness through the Rolex Middle Sea Race, best cetacean sighting records challenge (running since 2000 with the collaboration of RMYC) where crew members take detailed information and photos of every dolphin and whale sighting. Sustained sponsorship from Fotovision Imaging International is to be acknowledged. BICREF has also worked, and still does, toward local awareness of marine conservation management which would allow the effective protection of cetacean species too.
But while some may question the usefulness of cetacean conservation research and management, many other appreciate the need for this, not only as a basic requirement for species listed in local, regional and international legal notices and agreements, but also a as a necessary contribution to monitoring the condition of our seas. In fact as dolphins are among the top predators, their health, numbers and seasonal distribution are good indicators of the status and changes in our seas: An important requisite for trying to develop our coasts and marine activities in a sustainable manner.
ACCOBAMS is a cooperative tool for the conservation of marine biodiversity in the Mediterranean and Black Seas. The purpose of ACCOBAMS is to reduce threats to cetaceans in Mediterranean andBlack Sea waters and improve our knowledge of these animals. ACCOBAMS is the first Agreement binding the countries in these two subregions, and enabling them to work together on a matter of general interest.