Spain is one of the richest countries in marine biodiversity in Europe. It has 8,000 Km of coastline which is inhabited by 23 million people – 58% of the Spanish population. Due to the increasing pressure of human activities on the marine environment, oceans’ life is decreasing.
Almost a quarter of the Spanish territory is included in the Natura 2000 Network. The conservation of this territory’s ecological state has been guaranteed by this protection mechanism. However, when it comes to the marine environment, the Natura 2000 Network is at a very early stage. The high costs and complexity of obtaining scientific information on the habitats and species in areas far off the coast or in the deep sea make it difficult to identify the areas which should be included in the Network. To obtain this information and begin conservation and management actions, it is necessary to make big efforts to study marine ecosystems. The project stems from this need.
The project actions will be carried out from January 2009 to December 2013. The budget is € 15.4 million, and the European Commission will co-finance 50% of the project.
Coordinated by the Fundación Biodiversidad (Biodiversity Foundation), an IUCN Member, the project will use a participatory approach and include all of the relevant institutions in management, research and conservation of marine environments and some IUCN Members: Ministry of Agriculture, Nutrition and Environment, the Spanish Institute of Oceanography, the Spanish Council for Scientific Research, ALNITAK, the Coordinator for the Study of Marine Mammals, OCEANA, the Society for the Study of Cetaceans in the Canary Archipelago, SEO/BirdLife and WWF Spain.