CoCoNet Press Release 43

December 2015 - January 2016

THE COCONET MISSION WILL CONTINUE BOTH IN THE BLACK AND MEDITERRANEAN SEAS

The fourth and final CoCoNet General Assembly was held in Università del Salento, Lecce, Italy, on 1-2 December 2015, after four years of the intense marathon to elaborate multidisciplinary researches to set up guidelines for networks of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) in the Mediterranean and the Black Sea. Needless to say, it was not easy to harmonize 39 institutions from 22 countries involving more than 300 scientists with various backgrounds. In spite of all the hardships, however, we succeeded in synthesis of all our work for the future of our seas.

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Participants of the final general assembly of CoCoNet in Lecce

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Prof. Boero, the project coordinator of CoCONet, making an opening speech

Evalutions were made by the project coordinator of CoCoNet, Prof. Dr. Fedinando Boero and all work package leaders. Main findings were also discussed, such as GEODATABASE which all the information collected during the project is stored, the guidelines for the establishment of MPA networks in the Mediterranean and the Black Sea, a smart wind chart for both seas, the concept of Cells of Ecosystem Functioning.

During the Project, over 200 publications have been made in peer-reviewed journals, which is recognized as an excellent achievement in the scientific community. The Project website also has been visited by 164 nations in the whole world. Besides, we organized 22 workshops and three summer schools to discuss the issues of MPAs and disseminate our outcomes.

The Project will finish at the end of January 2016 but the collaboration of all the partners will continue even after that, based on the friendship grown during the four years.

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The guidelines for the establishment of MPA networks

The End User Meeting in Brussels, 14 January 2016, was the final step for the CoCoNet Project

As the final step of the 4 year project, the CoCoNet, an end user meeting was organized at DG RTD, Brussels, on 14 January 2016. The meeting was kindly facilitated by Ms. Sigi Gruber and started with an opening remark by Mr. Ricardo Serrao Santos, a member of the European Parliament. He emphasized the importance of regional cooperation for the future of our seas.

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Mr. Ricardo Serrao Santos, addressing the stakeholders with an opening remark

It is known that over 600 MPAs exist in the Mediterranean and Black Seas, but very few of them are real protected areas with management schemes properly implemeted. Good monitoring systems and education for public at large to create consciousness of marine conservation should accompany such management schemes of MPAs. Needless to say, it is necessary to increase geographical coverage of protected areas by establishing new MPAs in the southern and eastern parts of the Mediterranean Sea, and also in the whole Black Sea, taking into consideration of networking these MPAs.

The CoCoNet project produced the guidelines for networking of MPAs based on their scientific findings mainly through two Pilot Projects, one in the Adriatic Sea and the other in the Black Sea. The GEODATABASE which can create multiple layers of all information collected throughout the project period, such as habitats, fisheries, maritime activities, and legal status, is also widely available for establishing networks of MPAs.

The CoCoNet also produced the smart wind chart for the Mediterranean and Black Sea for the potential sites of offshore wind farms to produce clean energy.

All stakeholders congratulated the CoCoNet partners to achieve such an important goal within 4 years. The mission of CoCoNet, however, will continue to elaborate to protect our beautiful heritage of the Mediterranean and Black Seas.

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Prof. Bayram Ozturk explaining the outreach activities of the CoCoNet at the End User Meeting in Brussels

The CoCoNet community very much appreciate fruitful cooperation with Mr. Jacques Fuchs (DG RTD) and three reviewers who made valuable comments and suggestions to our report. We are also grateful to all stakeholders who are listening to our message and we look forward to more coopeartion in the future.
Finally, science and peace will act hand in had to protect our seas. It's time to act to create more MPAs and their networks.

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