Fourth National Report to the cbd – malta executive Summary




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Table 10 – Strategic Directions identified by the NSSD for the Environment Pillar

The target is ‘Halt loss of biodiversity by 2010, and achieve management of protected areas by 2008.’ The policy driver identified is the National Strategy for Protection of Biodiversity (= NBSAP). An evaluation was carried out of progress made in implementing the NSSD strategic directions on “Nature and Biodiversity” so as to identify gaps in implementation that would then be covered by the implementation of the NBSAP. The results of the evaluation are tabulated below.





Strategic direction being successfully implemented



Ongoing work but strategic direction not yet fully implemented



Strategic Direction not being successfully implemented



NSSD Strategic Directions identified for the Policy Area on “Nature & Biodiversity”

Status

Comments

Monitor and protect all rare and/or threatened endemic species and their habitats, as well as other locally occurring species of international importance, and take active measures for their conservation and restoration.



All endemic species are strictly protected by Regulation 26 of LN 311 of 2006, as amended, excluding common species, which are listed in schedule X to these regulations.

Species of international importance and that are found locally are also protected. Their distribution and range is mapped and their conservation status is assessed.



Policy guidance is being developed that will help identify priority species and also desired conservation measures to be implemented in the short, medium and long term.

[See also response to Goal 1 of PoW on Island Biodiversity in Chapter 2 of this report]



Designate additional habitats for protection (including marine areas), based on sound scientific information, in order to protect these habitats from incompatible development.



Protection of important terrestrial habitats has been afforded by means of a significant increase in the coverage of protected areas. Work is ongoing to complete designation of additional MPAs in order to afford protection to Malta’s important marine habitats.

[See also Appendix III (b) on PoW PA]



Draw up and implement the required management plans for Special Areas of Conservation



A few sites are covered by a management plan. Through a proposed EAFRD project, management plans for all terrestrial protected areas will be developed.

[See also Appendix III (b) on PoW PA]



Draw up a National Biodiversity Strategy for Malta based on the aims of the Convention on Biological Diversity



Work is in progress to develop Malta’s NBSAP. So far a number of consultation exercises have been carried out to gather the necessary information basis. An evaluation exercise of progress made to date in implementing national recommendations and also relevant CBD PoWs has been carried out in order to identify any gaps that would need to be addressed by the NBSAP. This CBD 4NR provides an overview of such assessment.

Fulfil all obligations under existing environmental treaties concerning biodiversity and equip local agencies responsible for implementing these treaties with the necessary resources, personnel and administrative machinery to enforce legislation.



Various resource constraints currently challenge implementation. Nonetheless capacity-building activities have been or are being undertaken as part of EU funded projects. Moreover, resource mobilisation is being given due priority in the process of the MEPA reform and attainment of the reform objectives.

Set up a nature wardening service and introduce or increase fines for infringement of particular regulations, so as to provide an effective deterrent.



Penalties are issued for infringements of Regulations. These either include a fine, imprisonment for a specific period, or both, depending on the gravity of the infringement.

Adopt an official policy on the introduction and eradication of alien species (including genetically modified organisms).



The legislative and administrative system for dealing with the introduction of alien species from e.g. nature protection, trade and phytosanitary perspectives are in place. Other pathways of introduction need to be addressed, especially those dealing with the marine environment.

GMOs are addressed by tailored Regulations and not by those dealing with alien species. In the latter case provisions are integrated in nature protection legislation and other sectoral legislation such as on plant health.

Eradication of alien species is being currently implemented mainly in protected areas or on an ad hoc basis. However, guidelines on eradicating alien flora are being developed.

[See also Response to Goal 6 of PoW on Island Biodiversity in Chapter 2 of this report]



Promote and fund research to gain a better understanding of local biodiversity, including the establishment and funding of a national inventory/database of biodiversity.



MEPA has commissioned a number of studies that are now complete. Via the studies the information basis necessary to develop a National Database on Biodiversity has been acquired and covers a number of taxonomic groups. Indeed, deliverables of some of these studies have included species-specific information in a series of databases in MS Access format. These will be centralised in the national database.

Devise schemes to improve awareness on the richness of local biodiversity



Several awareness raising activities have been held to promote Malta’s biodiversity. Such activities are undertaken by environmental NGOs, research entities, relevant Governmental Departments and Ministries, as well as MEPA and the Office of the Prime Minister. Conservation projects are also well publicised. These have included publication of material such as posters, leaflets and documentaries on DVDs, and also including workshops/seminars/conferences and talks on television and local radio stations.

[See also responses to PoWs on Island Biodiversity, GSPC and Protected Areas]



Ratify and implement the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety.



Malta ratified the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety on 5 January 2007 and it entered into force for Malta on 5 April 2007.

Discourage land reclamation in ecologically sensitive areas and encourage re-use of abandoned fields.



Land reclamation is being discouraged by the setting up of disincentives and incentives – e.g. bring-in sites and provision of skips to discourage dumping of waste in ecologically sensitive areas. Fees/penalties also apply when infringements are made. Land abandonment is also discouraged via the Rural Development Plan and its agri-environment measures and also via cross-compliance requirement.

Encourage organic farming, thereby reducing use of pesticides.



Organic farming is an emerging practice. Uptake of organic farming is being encouraged through the Malta’s Rural Development Programme. As at end 2008, there were 14 registered operators of organic products in the Maltese Islands, covering 21.78ha, increasing from 17.3ha in 2007, and representing approximately 0.19% of total agricultural land, and 0.21% of Utilised Agricultural Area.

Promote the use of ecological corridors.



Ecological corridors in Malta essentially include traditionally built rubble walls (legally protected structures), and natural features such as valley watercourses. Important valley watercourses are being addressed via the implementation of the EC Habitats Directive and the EC Water Framework Directive. The majority of protected areas that form part of the National Ecological Network come along with a “buffer zone”, which for instance covers agricultural land. Moreover the boundaries of certain PAs overlap.

Promote awareness that biodiversity is an economic resource of value to tourism, and that is enjoyed by tourists and the local population alike.



Malta’s National Tourism Plan integrates the action “We will increase tourists’ and locals’ awareness about the fragility of our marine environments” (As from June 2007 and beyond). A number of CEPA activities (refer to Section 3.3) have been undertaken to this end, although further activities would be desirable.

[See responses to PoWs on Island Biodiversity, GSPC and Protected Areas]



2.2.3 Malta’s National Report on the Strategic Action Plan for the Conservation of Maltese Coastal and Marine Biodiversity (SAP-BIO Project, 2002)

Malta’s SAP-BIO report presents in-depth information on the state of marine and coastal biodiversity of the Maltese Islands and identifies the problems that affect biodiversity and their proximate/ultimate causes, as well as assesses their relative importance. It also puts forward a suite of measures for the conservation of threatened and vulnerable species and habitats in the Maltese Islands in response to the findings of a gap analysis. The SAP-BIO report also proposes national action plans for certain taxonomic groups. At the time of its compilation, it was noted that the SAP-BIO report would be instrumental in forming the basis for Malta’s NBSAP.

An evaluation has been carried out to assess progress made in meeting the priorities for action identified in the SAP-BIO report so as to identify gaps in implementation that would then be covered by the implementation of the NBSAP. The results of the evaluation are tabulated below.




Priority action being successfully met



Ongoing work but priority action not yet fully met



Priority action not being successfully met



Priority Action

Status

Comments

Creation and expansion of checklists and databases, compilation of lists of threatened and alien species, and suggestion of ways for managing and tackling threatened or alien taxa



A series of studies have been considered, aiming at setting up lists of threatened and alien species; suggestions for dealing with extant plant invaders have been drafted.

Preparation of Species Action Plans (SAPs)



The SAP-BIO Report itself suggests action plans on:

- marine turtles

- cetaceans

- groupers

- shark, rays and skates

More detailed SAPs have been drafted. These need to be reviewed and processed for consultation. Work on a Dossier on Wild Fauna Exploitation will help lay down the basis for SAP compilation for threatened fauna.






Mapping of marine or coastal communities and phytosociological study



Habitat mapping is being carried out as part of the Natura 2000 designation process. This is at an advanced stage for coastal terrestrial sites. Mapping of marine communities has been partly carried out via EIAs and also via a series of commissioned studies such as has been done for Rdum Majjiesa to Ras ir-Raheb and Filfla. The Rdum Majjiesa to Ras ir-Raheb MPA had also been selected as a European Marine Biodiversity Research Site by theBIOMARE project, funded under the Energy, Environment and Sustainable Development Programme of the European Union.

A survey of mediolittoral algal communities along the whole coastline of the Maltese Islands has also carried out in a separate study. [See also response to PoW on PAs in Appendix III (b) and also response to Goal 1 of the PoW on Island Biodiversity in Chapter 2 of this report]



Preparation of Habitat Action Plans



Conservation measures aimed at habitat protection are to be integrated within management plans.

The SAP-BIO report did propose at the time an action plan for the micro-cartography, mapping and surveillance of Posidonia oceanica meadows in the Maltese Islands. A detailed study on Posidonia Meadows has been carried out (G.A.S. s.r.l. 2002).



Declaring marine or coastal protected areas



Coastal protected areas have been designated. The designation of MPAs is ongoing. A management framework and an action plan for two MPAs have been approved.

[See also response to PoW on Pas in Appendix III (b)]



Regulating the harvest of biodiversity resources and exploitable species



Provisions on sustainable use are integrated in environmental and fisheries regulations. For more detail see response to Goal 4 to the PoW on Island Biodiversity in Chapter 2 of this report and Section 3.2 of this report.

Creation of experts in the fields of marine biology and the need for training



Training as continued professional development is promoted. Environment officers attend training workshops abroad such as offered by RAC-SPA. Training is also acquired via Twinning Projects in partnership with other countries. NGOs also participate in other capacity-building training.

Monitoring plans and programmes



MEPA has carried out an exercise whereby it has consolidated all its present water quality monitoring requirements under the various regulations and formulated a holistic, integrated water quality monitoring programme which maximises resource utilisation by combining the sampling and analysis for different waters at specific timeframes and for the different parameters required by legislation.

Monitoring of marine biodiversity is being carried out in the form of a series projects (e.g. MEDITS Trawl Survey Programme and Medsudmed) or else in the form of compliance monitoring as per regulatory requirements.

[See also Section 3.2 of this report].


Addressing accidental captures and other fisheries interactions with protected or important biodiversity



Data on by-catch of marine turtles is collected by MCFS. The MCFS is also carrying out a research project on the incidental by-catches of seabirds (part of the EU LIFE+ Garnija Project). Preliminary findings are published.

[See also Section 3.2 of this report].



Policies addressing particular problems, improvement and updating of legislation and effective enforcement



Environmental legislation is currently being reviewed as part of a Better Regulation Initiative.

National policies are generally based on EU regulatory frameworks.



Addressing marine aquaculture and tuna penning effects on biodiversity



Fish farms are required to fulfil and adhere to environmental monitoring programmes as required by development permit conditions.

Existing inshore aquaculture units have been encouraged to relocate at a greater distance from the shore and in deeper waters, to mitigate any environmental impacts.

Malta’s Fisheries Operational Programme (2007-2013) sets as one of its objectives under Priority Axis 2 to reduce the negative impact of aquaculture on the environment.

[See Section on Aquaculture and Fisheries in Section 3.2 of this report]



Development of ecotourism for the marine and coastal environment should be recommended and promoted



It is envisaged that management plans for MPAs would explore ways of catering for the provision of an alternative income to those stakeholders who practice various activities that may be a threat to the conservation of the environment, or else, stakeholders may be directed towards non-consumptive uses, within the MPA. Through the management plans that are expected to be produced for MPAs, Malta should be aiming at achieving sustainable use of the marine environment with the involvement of stakeholders in the management of the areas.

Monitoring of artificial reefs and the adoption of a policy governing scuttling of wrecks or other artificial reefs for the purpose of establishing an ecosystem



Notice to Mariners 67/2004 and 5/2008 provide for the creation of Conservation Areas around Wrecks and Artificial Reefs, for the protection of species and habitats in these areas, through restrictions of use of fishing gears. The Agriculture and Fisheries Regulatory Division (AFRD) and the Malta Maritime Authority (MMA) are the competent authorities for the implementation of these regulations.

Communication, Education and Public Awareness



Several awareness raising activities have been held to promote Malta’s biodiversity. These have included publication of material such as posters, leaflets and documentaries on CDs & DVDs, including workshops and talks on television and local radio stations. Conservation projects are also well publicised.

Participation by environment protection officers of the Ecosystems Management Unit (MEPA) in various local TV programmes also contributed to raising public awareness with regard to the need and functioning of MPAs.

A CEPA initiative has been undertaken by the University of Malta in the MPA at Rdum Majjiesa to Ras ir-Raheb to establish the status of the environment.

[See also responses to Goal 3.5 of the PoW on Protected Areas]

Malta’s National Tourism Plan integrates the action “We will increase tourists’ and locals’ awareness about the fragility of our marine environments” (As from June 2007 and beyond). A number of CEPA activities have been undertaken to this end.

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