The EU LIFE+ Malta Seabird Project aims to identify Marine Important Bird Areas for the three species of Tubenoses breeding in the Maltese Islands: Cory’s shearwater, Yelkouan shearwater and the European Storm Petrel.
These species are listed on the Annex I of the European Commission’s Birds Directive. Malta, as an EU member state, is obliged by law to protect their habitats on land and at sea. While the birds’ breeding colonies on land are now protected, there is still a need to identify and protect areas they use out at sea.
The Project’s objectives are:
- Data collection to identify Marine IBAs in Maltese waters for the target species
- Production of a detailed inventory report on Marine IBAs in Maltese and international waters
- Monitoring seabird colonies in the Maltese Islands
- Dietary study of the target species
- Enlargement and maintenance of the Central Mediterranean Seabirds at Sea GIS database
The LIFE+ Malta Seabird Project is focusing on the Exclusive Fisheries Zone of Malta that extends to the 25 nautical mile limit from the shores of the Maltese Islands. Key foraging, resting and rafting areas of the study species within this area of sea will be identified between 2012 and 2014. The data collected will be analysed and built into models that will form the basis of the Marine IBAs report for Malta, to be completed in 2015. Through the creation of a GIS database, the Project will contribute to the Central Mediterranean Seabirds at Sea database. In the final stage of the Project in 2016, based on the findings of the Marine IBA report, the Maltese government authorities will designate key areas as Marine Special Protected Areas to form part of the Natura2000 network.
In addition to the tracking studies, the Project will collect baseline data on the birds’ breeding success at the different colonies across the Maltese Islands. This will allow assessment of the overall effectiveness of conservation action on the seabird colonies.