The IUCN Centre for Mediterranean Cooperation has released today a new app for smart phones, and an online tool to help managers of marine protected areas (MPAs) control the spread of invasive species in the Mediterranean Sea. The presentation took place during the workshop on Climate Change and Marine Protected Areas held in Cadaqués (Spain), organised by the Network of Marine Protected Area Managers in the Mediterranean (MedPAN) and the Regional Activity Centre for Specially Protected Areas of the Barcelona Convention (UNEP/MAP RAC/SPA) in collaboration with the Generalitat of Catalunya, the IUCN Centre for Mediterranean Cooperation, and with the support of the Rhone-Mediterranean and Corsica Water Agency and the MAVA Foundation.
The new application aims to facilitate the identification of marine invasive species in Mediterranean marine protected areas so that monitoring and control programmes can be put in place before they damage native marine species. Further improvements to the App will be considered during the marine experts workshop in order to increase its applicability and potentiality for marine protected areas.
In the Mediterranean, one notorious example is the highly invasive algae Caulerpa racemosa or Caulerpa taxifolia, or the poisonous fishes such as the Lagocephalus species.
The app is supported by an online platform which includes an identification guide of the most important invasive species found in the Mediterranean Sea. The data reported by users through the app and the online platform will be verified before display on an online map accessible through the platform. This platform is devoted to all those interested (amateur or professional divers, marine technicians, MPA managers, fishermen or scientists) in receiving information on invasive species in marine protected areas. Information collected will also support conservation efforts through recording the presence of potentially invasive species.
María del Mar Otero, Marine Programme officer at the IUCN Centre for Mediterranean Cooperation and coordinator of the project, highlights “The objective of this online application is to improve the control of invasive species by asking sea watchers and divers across the Mediterranean to help us find and track them in marine protected areas”.
The online reporting system is based on a recent publication by IUCN in the context of the MedPAN North project, “Monitoring Invasive Species in Mediterranean Marine Protected Areas (MPAs): A strategy and practical guide for managers”, which describes and maps around half a hundred species. IUCN-Med invites divers to identify potentially invasive species in MPAs, and report them through this service. The data collected will help marine conservation by increasing the chances of stopping their permanent establishment and thus limiting their potential impact.
The Smartphone’s application is free and available in English, French and Spanish. You can download it from: http://www.iucn-medmis.org