Intent and Objectives: National Action Plan concerning Marine Species Introduction and Invasive Marine Species in Malta

CONSULTATION BRIEF

Start date: 7 October 2022

Closing date: 4 November 2022

Title of the public consultation: Intent and Objectives: National Action Plan concerning Marine Species Introduction and Invasive Marine Species in Malta

Ministry: Ministry for the Environment, Energy and Enterprise

Entity: Environment & Resources Authority

1. Background

In terms of Article 51 of the Environment Protection Act (Cap. 549), it is duly notified that the Environment and Resources Authority (ERA) is elaborating a ‘National Action Plan concerning marine species introduction and invasive species in Malta’ within the framework of the Protocol concerning Specially Protected Areas and Biological Diversity in the Mediterranean (SPA/BD Protocol) of the Barcelona Convention. This will be in collaboration with a national expert commissioned by the Specially Protected Areas Regional Activity Centre (SPA/RAC).

The introduction of non-indigenous species (NIS), also known as alien species, is considered a major driver of native biodiversity loss in marine ecosystems, challenging the conservation of marine biodiversity and natural resources. Alien marine species may become invasive and substantially change community structure, modify habitats and affect foodweb properties and ecosystem processes. NIS can also be associated with impacts on human health and economic sectors.

Therefore, it is imperative to take immediate steps to prevent the introduction of alien species, control the spread of those already introduced and endeavour to mitigate the damage they cause to the marine ecosystem, including through national actions as well as regional and international cooperation.

The development of a National Action Plan addressing NIS is in accordance with the requirements of the Regional Action Plan concerning Species Introductions and Invasive Species in the Mediterranean Sea (UNEP/MAP 2017) under the Barcelona Convention. This invites Mediterranean countries to adopt National Plans for the prevention of the introduction of new alien marine species by controlling their pathways, and to mitigate their negative impact. It shall also respond to and feed into other policy processes, including those pertaining to the EU Marine Strategy Framework Directive (Directive 2008/56/EC) and the EU Regulation on the prevention and management of the introduction and spread of invasive alien species (Regulation (EU) No 1143/2014), as well as the recently adopted National Strategy for Preventing and Mitigating the Impact of Invasive Alien Species (IAS) in the Maltese Islands, together with the accompanying National Codes of Good Practice, and the national Action Plan Addressing Escape From Confinement of Invasive Alien Species (IAS) of Union Concern (Pets, Aquaria and Terrarium species).

 2. Consultation

Intent and Objectives

The intent of the proposed National Action Plan is to serve as a national policy driver for the prevention of the introduction of new alien marine species by controlling their pathways, and to mitigate their negative impact. The main objectives of the proposed National Action Plan are:

  • to encourage all necessary actions aimed at improving the available knowledge with respect to non-indigenous species (NIS) in Maltese marine waters;
  • to establish monitoring processes that enable continuous assessment of NIS and their impacts on the marine environment;
  • to coordinate the actions necessary for the regular provision of essential information for national and Mediterranean-wide reference lists of alien species, databases and online platforms;
  • to support coordinated efforts for management of NIS throughout the Mediterranean region and encourage the implementation of scientifically-backed regionally-harmonised measures of prevention and control of NIS introduction in particular for the high risk pathways of NIS;
  • to develop training and raising awareness programmes for prevention and mitigation of impacts.

The following questions are being asked as part of this consultation:

  • Do you agree with the proposed intent and objectives of this National Action Plan?
  • Can the objectives be further refined, keeping in mind the intent and scope of this National Action Plan?
  • Do you have any further feedback or comments on the intent or objectives of this National Action Plan?

3. Submission of feedback

E-mail: policy@era.org.mt

4. Further notes

Please be informed that comments submitted, together with the identity of the contributor, may be published online at the end of the public consultation, unless the contributor objects to the publication of his/her personal data. In this case, the contribution may be published in anonymous form.

All comments submitted shall be duly considered.

The draft National Action Plan concerning marine species introduction and marine invasive species in Malta will be available for public consultation in due course at the following web link: https://era.org.mt/consultation-on-legislation-and-policy/