Science is one of the foundations on which the effective management of marine protected areas is based. For this reason, we have developed actions that allow us to improve knowledge of the Natura 2000 network in the marine environment and have made the following advances.
The level of protection of our seas has been analysed through four workshops with the participation of 126 researchers. The aim being to identify and assess the shortcomings in terms of representativeness of the habitats and species of community interest in the marine areas of the Natura 2000 network, as well as the coherence of the network, and to present proposals to complete this network of protected areas in Spain. At the same time, we are evaluating for its subsequent update, the Standard list of Marine Species, which is the reference list of species found in Spanish waters and which already has more than 11,000 references. Given the complexity of the marine environment, we have facilitated the management of the marine habitats by standardizing the nomenclature and grouping different typologies into the management units defined in European legislation.
Also, we have carried out 16 oceanographic campaigns, five of which focused on the habitats and species that can be found in new spaces for their possible future declaration as areas of the Natura 2000 network. In this, we have explored Cabo Tiñoso, Cap Bretón and the sea mounts of Mallorca in order to know the habitats and species present in these spaces for their possible declaration as areas of the Natura 2000 network.
To help improve the development of management plans for the declared areas, a campaign was carried out in the Columbretes islands and interactions with fishing activities were analysed over four campaigns, in the Menorca channel, in the Canary Islands, and two in the Avilés canyon systems. In addition, key scientific knowledge is being provided for the management of 8 Sites of Community Importance (SCI) that were studied in the previous LIFE + INDEMARES project, including inventories of biodiversity, geomorphological characteristics and detailed mapping of deep-water marine habitats.
We have also carried out campaigns and surveys to increase our knowledge of the Balearic and ashy-backed shearwater populations in the area of the Strait of Gibraltar. We have tagged individual Balearic shearwaters to determine their activity in the northern and central areas of the Catalan coast to determine distribution patterns in the North Atlantic marine demarcation, as well as for the possible designation of new SPAs.
Also, we have installed nesting boxes for small shearwaters and Manx shearwaters, in Lanzarote and Tenerife respectively. The ultimate goal is to establish more accessible breeding stocks so that it is easier to tag the few individuals present in our waters. This will allow us to better understand their biology and ecology and subsequently design protection measures.
Furthermore, with the aim of improving conservation actions with regards to the loggerhead turtle, we have carried out a study on the suitability of stretches of beach for the possible incubation of loggerhead turtles in the Mediterranean, the Gulf of Cádiz and the Canary Islands, in order to improve design measures that favour the nesting activities of the species. In the same way, we have tagged and released 10 loggerhead turtles (Caretta caretta) that had been bred in captivity in Valencia. This has allowed for the collection of very relevant data on the behaviour of these individuals during the first months after their release, known as "the lost years of the turtles", as well as collecting information on their distribution. This will help us improve conservation measures that can be included in the conservation strategies and plans of this species.
- Reports on the INDEMARES SCI: biodiversity inventories of 6 SCI (Mud Volcanoes, the Menorca Channel, Seco de los Olivos, Banco de la Concepción, The Lanzarote and Fuerteventura Marine Area and the Columbretes Islands. Reports of geomorphological classification in 2 of these (Seco de los Olivos and Banco de Galicia). In addition, between 2017 and 2020, 4 scientific articles were published in international magazines on habitats and species and 1 on maritime spatial planning in El Cachucho.