For many years, several research bodies have worked on monitoring cetaceans using large vessels and ferries as platform of observations. The two main European networks are the FLT MED NETwork led by ISPRA, and the Atlantic Network led by ORCA (which publishes yearly the “state of European cetacean”). The networks are expanding also for the southern countries of the Mediterranean Region (such as Tunisia and Morocco). There is a strong need for all the team leaders of the different research bodies to meet and strengthen the collaboration, the best practices, and the improvement of the common research and shared monitoring protocol as well as expanding the survey coverage.
A network of public research institutes, IMPEL members, private sector and NGO’s will have the chance to join together to increase the capacity of a monitoring protocol to collect environmental data needed for the EU Directives linked to water ecosystems.
Main aim of the project is to link the two networks (Mediterranean and Atlantic) together, expanding the networks to the southern countries of the Mediterranean Region in order to strengthen the implementation of environmental law in Europe.
In addition, following the outcomes of an Interreg Med project (MedSeaLitter in which ISPRA was a partner), new guidelines have been published to survey marine litter. Aim of our IMPEL project would be also to transfer the outcomes to the two networks, and their research bodies, so collect data jointly on cetacean/turtles and marine macro litter. The developed marine litter protocol has been shared with the JRC Marine Litter task group and will be also published on the new JRC Guidance on marine litter monitoring.
Outcomes will be a joint revised protocol (1st phase) in order to collect data for the fulfillment of the needs of the mentioned EU Directives (in first instance the MSFD) and Regional Sea Convention, such as data on the risk of exposure of species to plastic litter, setting also baselines for marine litter in high sea areas. The outcomes will follow several future steps in order to have a full protocol in the near future which also experienced all the testing, dissemination and capitalization phases.