The Environment and Resources Authority (ERA) shows its full support to Nature Trust Malta in the organisation of guided snorkelling tours in Malta’s coastal waters. The Authority believes that snorkelling has the potential to enhance public participation in the conservation of marine biodiversity when developed within an environmental education framework. Nature Trust Malta’ guided snorkelling tours will provide the opportunity for the public to gain a better understanding of the diversity of habitats and species associated with the marine environment and thus raise awareness on the need for marine conservation.
Snorkel trails are an effective tool for developing ecological awareness across the public and enhance public participation in management processes. The importance of engaging the public in conservation efforts in the marine environment is duly acknowledged by the recently published ‘Conservation Objectives & Measures for Malta’s Marine Natura 2000 sites’, which document is currently undergoing a public consultation process. Within this context, one of the conservation measures in coastal Marine Protected Areas seeks to evaluate the effectiveness of current snorkel trails through survey questionnaires, and if necessary, consider creation of new ones.
The guided snorkelling that will be organised by Nature Trust Malta this year will be paving the way for long-term maintenance of snorkel trails in our coastal waters. This will aim to raise awareness on the importance of the marine environment and contribute to conservation efforts within Marine Protected Areas in Maltese waters. This initiative will be taken forward through collaboration between Nature Trust Malta, Ambjent Malta, ERA.
To mark the launch of these guided snorkel trails a male loggerhead turtle named Paul has been released. The turtle was rescued in May 2021 near Filfla and was found to have ingested a hook. Following an operation and rehabilitation it has made a full recovery was strong enough to be released.
More information on MPAs:
Eighteen (18) Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) covering over 4100km2 or 35% of Malta’s Fisheries Management Zone were designated throughout a period of ten years 2008-2018. The MPAs were designated in accordance with legal obligations of the EU Habitats Directive 92/43/EEC and the Birds Directive 2009/147/EC. These areas seek the conservation of various seabed habitats, including Posidonia meadows, sandbanks, reefs and caves, as well as marine species including dolphins, turtles and seabirds.
The public consultation:
The public consultation is open until the 5th of September 2021, ERA encourages the public to have a say in this management process through the public consultation processes.
Further information can be obtained through here.
5 August 2021