[MARMAM] Italo-Tunisian research project

Ceto News cetonews at yahoo.it
Thu Feb 13 14:09:15 PST 2014

A pool of Italian and Tunisian research bodies
has started a yearly joint project on monitoring cetacean in the Region between
Sicily and Tunisia. In order to: systematically survey regularly the region throughout
the years also in high sea areas;  reduce
reduces spatial heterogeneity; and to make more efficient the use of the budget
resources the project, co-financed from ACCOBAMS, uses regular passengers
ferries as platform of observations.
Due to high productive values, the region between
Sicily and Tunisia is considered one of the potential wintering grounds for fin
whale. The area is also considered a critical habitat for cetacean species due
to important anthropogenic pressures such as fishing, aquaculture, maritime
traffic, oil and gas industry, communication cables and construction of
wind-mill farms. Despite this, no systematic monitoring study has never been
undertaken so far.
In order to start a systematic cetacean monitoring of
the area, a partnership of Tunisian and Italian research bodies participated
with success to the ACCOBAMS 2012 open call for “Monitoring, research, training
and projects relating to the conservation of Cetaceans”. Main aim of the
project was capacity building issues and, to reach this goal, a partnership
within the scientific international network that monitors cetacean using
ferries as platforms of observation was built. Moreover, two ferry companies
were involved in the project allowing to monitor the area among Tunisia, Sicily
and Sardinia. Collected data will allow to: assess cetacean presence and
distribution in this poorly surveyed area; investigate seasonal trends in
cetacean presence and distribution (sighting will be shared on OBIS Sea Map);
investigate fin whale migration patterns. In addition, the project will
contribute to assess the quantity of events of collision risks. Networking with
the other partners that use the same monitoring protocol is an important added
value that will allow a synoptic view of cetacean in the Western Mediterranean
Sea Region. Overall, the project goal is also to enact policies, between
Tunisia and Italy, so to strengthen the cooperation and dialogue between
peoples through the sectors of scientific research, culture and friendship
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