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04 September 2017

At the initiative of the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation, a meeting of Mediterranean monk seal experts is to be held within the context of Monaco’s research on the Yersin exploration vessel in Madeira

The Mediterranean monk seal (Monachus monachus) is one of the most endangered mammals in the world, with the global population being estimated at only 500 individuals living in the Mediterranean and the near Atlantic. There are two main reasons for the vulnerability of the Mediterranean monk seal: on the one hand, fishermen view the species as competition for fisheries resources and, on the other, the species has been affected by the degradation of its habitat due to urbanisation and tourism. This meeting, to be held on 6 September 2017, should help create a solid, lasting dynamic between the different projects aimed at protecting Monachus monachus populations.

This momentum originated in Monaco around ten years ago. Following two workshops organised by the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation, which brought together Mediterranean monk seal experts, the Foundation ordered a feasibility study. The results of this study formed the basis of the Foundation's commitment to the protection of this emblematic species. This is a commitment that has continued to develop in collaboration with the Tethys Research Institute, the Hellenic Society for the Study and Protection of the Monk Seal and WWF Greece. This collaboration, along with support from local communities, has allowed for the creation of a Marine Protected Area (MPA) around the Island of Gyaros, which is home to one of the largest Mediterranean monk seal colonies.
 
It is in keeping with this long-term work that the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation decided to bring together the leading Mediterranean monk seal experts on the Yersin research vessel when it stops over in Funchal on the Island of Madeira. The first objective is to review all the projects currently underway. The second is to prepare, with this group of experts, a major meeting as part of the Monaco Ocean Week 2018 programme, in which all the foundations from the Mediterranean and the near Atlantic concerned about this emblematic species will participate.

This workshop will be moderated by Paulo Oliveira, Vice-president of the Institute for Nature Conservation and Forests [Instituto das Florestas e Conservação da Natureza, IFCN]. The participants will include: Rosa Pires (Senior Technical Officer, IFCN), Luis Freitas (Head of the Science Unit at Madeira Whale Museum), Panos Dendrinos (Biologist PhD, President of the Board, MOm/Hellenic Society for the Study & Protection of the Monk Seal), Spyros Kotomatas (PhD, CYCLADES LIFE Project Leader, WWF Greece), Joan Gonzalvo (PhD, Programme Manager, Tethys Research Institute), Harun Güçlüsoy (PhD, University of Izmir, Institute of Marine Sciences and Technology), Pablo Fernández de Larrinoa (Marine Biologist, CBD-Habitat Foundation) and Philippe Gaubert (Research Fellow, Institute of Evolutionary Sciences of Montpellier).

About the Monaco Explorations campaign

The Monaco Explorations campaign launched by H.S.H. Prince Albert II of Monaco, aims to help increase knowledge of the seas and oceans and to raise awareness among both the general public and decision-makers all over the world, in order to promote local and international conservation actions.

Monaco Explorations uses a versatile and modular vessel, the M/V Yersin, equipped with 6 research laboratories. This is a ship that can be used for travelling, exploring and teaching and offers optimal working and safety conditions. The scientific campaign will last 3 years.

To find out more: www.monacoexplorations.org

About the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation

In June 2006, HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco decided to set up his Foundation in order to address the alarming threats hanging over our planet’s environment. The Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation works for the protection of the environment and the promotion of sustainable development.
The Foundation supports projects in three main geographical regions: the Mediterranean Basin, the Polar Regions and the Least Developed Countries. The Foundation’s efforts focus on three main sectors: Climate change and renewable energies, biodiversity, and integrated and sustainable water management together with the fight against desertification. Since it was established, the Foundation has supported over 400 projects with a total amount of 36 million euros.
To find out more: www.fpa2.org and www.facebook.com/FondationPrinceAlbertIIdeMonaco 

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