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Spiain's government has committed to protecting over 10 per cent of its marine area. (Photo: AZTI)

AZTI researchers collaborate in identifying new proposals for protected marine areas

Click on the flag for more information about Spain SPAIN
Thursday, March 08, 2018, 10:20 (GMT + 9)

Researchers from AZTI technological centre are working on the performance of basic studies helpful for the future identification of marine areas to be protected within the framework of Natura 2000 Networking Programme off the coasts of the Basque Country.

The initiative, which is carried out within the framework of the MarProtec project, has the support of the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, Food and the Environment, through the Biodiversity Foundation.

The Natura 2000 Networking Programme is a network of natural spaces that have high ecological value and that crosses Europe with a common objective: to guarantee the protection, in a favourable status, of certain types of habitats and species in their natural distribution areas through the creation/implementation of special zones for their protection and conservation.

Life IP Intermares project "Integrated, innovative and participatory management of the Natura 2000 Networking Programme in the Spanish marine environment" is the largest marine conservation project in Europe. It is the first initiative at national level that combines different European funds for the management of a whole network of protected areas. Its main objective is to obtain a consolidated network of marine spaces of the Natura 2000 Networking Programme, managed efficiently, with the active participation of the sectors involved and with research as basic tools for decision-making.

AZTI, within the framework of the MarProtec project, will collaborate with the Intermares project in the southeast area of ​​the Bay of Biscay. Relevant marine spaces will be identified and tools for planning and management will be implemented for future proposals of Sites of Community Interest.

Within this geographical area, the spaces already protected will be studied: protected biotope of San Juan de Gaztelugatxe, the protected biotope of the coastal Deba-Zumaia stretch, and the Special Protection Area for Birds of the estuary of the Mundaka-Cabo de Ogoño Estuary. Likewise, new areas of possible naturalistic interest will be identified in which the previous cartographic information indicates the presence of habitats of community interest, such as submarine reefs and singular structures originated by gas emissions from the marine subsoil.

The MarProtec project addresses the identification of new areas to be explored on the continental slope off the coasts of the Basque Country.
The MarProtec initiative will develop innovative processes and tools for optimal space planning and will help to guarantee the conservation and recovery of habitats from an approach based on marine spatial planning (Maritime Spatial Planning Directive and the Royal Decree on Maritime Spatial Planning).

The project will contribute to achieving the international commitments assumed by the Government of Spain to protect more than 10 per cent of its marine surface.

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