Italy has 281 marine sites of Community importance (SCIs), 249 of which were reclassified as marine special areas of conservation. Conservation and management measures for these sites began to be defined in 2009. Currently 119 marine sites have management plans. However, there is still much to be done, both in terms of research, monitoring and control and in terms of site governance and integration between various policies, especially referring to the open sea where there are still not any Italian designated sites and transboundary sites. The European Commission has stressed the need to complete the Italian marine Natura 2000 network’s designation, speed up the identification of conservation measures, and strengthen participatory processes and the application of appropriate assessment (i.e. assessment of the impact on a particular site of a specific project or plan).
The overall objective of LIFE SEA.NET is to improve the governance and management of marine Natura 2000 sites, using a replicable approach ensuring coherence among sites, and to ensure that the sites have adequate regulation and are managed to reach the objectives of various EU directives and policies.
The project’s specific objectives are to:
- Tackle the lack of information and of a coordinated approach;
- Develop a path to support the managers of Natura 2000 sites for the definition of site-specific conservation objectives and measures;
- Support the application of appropriate assessment within the Habitats Directive by producing a handbook on this for marine areas;
- Improve the capacity and quality of public administration;
- Favour cross-border collaboration, for the designation of marine Natura 2000 transboundary sites; and
- Increase awareness and knowledge with a multilevel communication campaign, meetings, dissemination activities and direct involvement of stakeholders.
The project is in line with a range of EU policy and legislation, including the Marine Strategy Framework Directive, the Framework Directive on Maritime Spatial Planning, the Birds Directive, the Habitats Directive, the 2030 biodiversity strategy, the Water Framework Directive, the common fisheries policy and the integrated maritime policy.
- Design and adoption of site-specific conservation measures in 12 pilot areas;
- A handbook with a methodological proposal for appropriate assessment in marine areas, including open sea sites;
- Establishment of a “technical table” to support the management bodies of marine Natura 2000 sites and dissemination of a governance toolkit;
- At least 30 information, training and awareness-raising meetings with management bodies, regional administrations and local stakeholders;
- Adoption of the governance toolkit by at least 30 management bodies;
- Training courses for enhanced capacity building of 100 technicians and administrators working in marine SCI management bodies;
- Adoption at local level of the procedures identified in the governance toolkit;
- Establishment of the designation stage for transboundary sites, producing a roadmap on cross-border strategy;
- Start of cooperation with at least 4 EU Member States for designation of transnational marine Natura 2000 sites;
- Engagement of 500 fishermen with the project and adoption of a code of conduct by at least 50 fishermen;
- Increase of 25% in the acceptance level of Natura 2000 among fishermen;
- Cooperation with 300 people in the fishery sector through 20 “fishermen's cafés”;
- Creation of 5 local desks providing information and assistance for fishermen, for projects and requests about European Maritime and Fisheries Fund financing aimed at favouring the conservation of marine biodiversity;
- 1,000 people involved in citizen science activities; 200 teachers and 2,000 students involved in information and education actions; 3 million people reached by media relations activities; 500 tour operators involved in the project; and
- Increase of 20% in the level of knowledge about marine Natura 2000 sites among local communities of the protected areas involved.