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The BICREF-RMSR Award - Integrating Passion and Science for Marine Conservation

27 October 2014

The 15th edition of the BICREF-RMSR Award for the best dolphin and whale sightings reports went to the master and crew of the KEYIF 60. This award has been organised by the Biological Conservation Research Foundation, BICREF - NGO which has been at the fore in promoting research and conservation awareness of marine life around the Maltese Islands but also in the whole of the Mediterranean. Various runners up for this award include crews of the sailing boats: No Relax, Salana, and UNICA. This BICREF project launched in 2000 with the initial sponsorship of the Westin Dragonara, has found the support of the Royal Malta Yacht Club and hundreds of Rolex Middle Sea Race participants through the years. The trophy was this year sponsored by Vascas and was awarded to the winners during the RMSR prize-giving. The trophy rewards the crew that best undertakes the challenge of integrating the sailing passion with knowledge gathering. Various participants also reveal that the feeling of discovering and learning more about their own world is indeed already rewarding and it is great that through such BICREF projects these opportunities have been facilitated through the years.

Through this annual effort, BICREF has been encouraging passionate sailing enthusiasts to contribute their time out at sea to appreciating the natural diversity of species, such as marine mammals and turtles that surface to breathe air. Marine mammals represented in these waters by various species of dolphins and whales are increasingly having to suffer from marine pollution: chemical to plastics to noise, while facing problems associated with declining prey species, increasing exploitation of marine resources and a changing climate. The status of dolphins and whales represents and often reflects the survival status of many other life forms in our sea, as they are at the top of the food chain and move extensively in this three-dimensional world. The central region of the Mediterranean Sea has been pin-pointed as being important to prospective conservation measures but has also seen human impacts and unsustainable developments threaten such prospects. Sustainable development needs the full support of all involved to allow future generations to have a good quality of life.

Awareness of biodiversity and its conservation through accurate and detailed data collection and integration has been at the heart of the long-term dedicated work of BICREF's founder, Dr Adriana Vella, Ph.D (Cambridge) who lectures and trains students and volunteers in different aspects of conservation biology and its applications. As part of her academic work Dr. Vella will also be contributing to the open week organised by the Discover University initiative and will be presenting a talk for school students on Friday 31st of October entitled "Will large predators be replaced by jellyfish?"

For more information on BICREF and how to take part in conservation actions send an email to: bicref@gmail.com