Seabed signs off Għajn Tuffieħa

Divers may soon find “road” signs on the seabed outlining an underwater trail off Għajn Tuffieħa bay.

The project is part of a wider undertaking by the Malta Environment and Planning Authority to study and upgrade marine protected areas around Malta.

The underwater trail will be the first of its kind and will traverse the zone between Rdum Majjiesa and Ras ir-Raħeb, a marine protected area.

It will be a “visible deliverable”, according to Mepa’s environment director Martin Seychell, who said the project was important because it showed protected areas had potential to generate economic wealth if managed well.

“Having a protected area does not mean all economic and social activity is excluded. The key word is sustainable management,” Mr Seychell said, adding it was the regulator’s philosophy to engage with stakeholders rather than keeping them out.

The €142,000 undertaking, part-financed by the EU, will be completed in 2013 and includes: a study to determine how marine protected areas can generate money to make them self-financing; an assessment of invasive alien species; the continuation of a previous study to determine the noble-pen shell’s population; and the drawing up of a manual outlining the different marine habitats and species around Malta.

Mepa will rope in divers and fishers to help it gather the necessary data.

The project forms part of an initiative taken by Medpan, an organisation that brings together countries from around the Mediterranean basin in a bid to share resources and know-how.

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