Only 30% of threatened marine species in Spain have some type of monitoring program
20/12/2023 - It is the main conclusion of a state-wide report prepared by the citizen science platforms Observadores del Mar and RedPROMAR. - The results show that marine citizen science projects can be great allies to contribute to monitoring programs. A new report prepared by the citizen science platforms Observadores del Mar of ​​the CSIC and RedPROMAR of the Government of the Canary Islands warns that only 29.8% of the threatened marine species in Spain—those that appear in a national or international protection agreement— , have some type of monitoring program that evaluates the changes suffered by their populations or ecosystems. This is the first work that analyzes the level of implementation and the typology of monitoring programs for all marine species included in national and international agreements that are present on the Spanish coasts. “This report is intended to be a first point of reference to have a more panoramic view of the state of the monitoring programs and help improve the situation. We also want to highlight the value of citizen science platforms such as Observadores del Mar and RedPROMAR to contribute to the knowledge of threatened species on the Spanish coasts,” explains Joaquim Garrabou, researcher at the Institute of Marine Sciences (ICM) and coordinator of Observadores del Mar. The report has analyzed the status of monitoring programs for 255 of the 328 threatened species present in Spain, which represents 78% of the total. The complexity of finding information has made it difficult to carry out the analysis of the 328. The results of the report show that, of the 255 threatened species analyzed, only 76, that is, 29.8%, have some monitoring program in some area of ​​their distribution area on the Spanish coast. On the other hand, the report reveals that, of the 1,837 monitoring programs that should be active throughout the country for the species analyzed, only 214 are being implemented, which represents only 11.6% of the total. “There are a large number of species on our coasts that are included in international treaties and conventions, however, monitoring of the conservation status of these species is clearly deficient,” laments Macarena Marambio, ICM researcher and member of Observadores del Mar. Another of the main conclusions of the report is the absence of an information system where data about monitoring programs is reported, something that, in the opinion of the authors of the work, is essential to harmonize these programs, as well as future ones, at the national level, in addition to identifying current gaps and deficiencies and supporting decision-making based on scientific evidence on the conservation status of the species. In this regard, Macarena Marambio points out that “the access to the information on the existence and level of implementation of monitoring programs has been a major challenge, since there is no formalized reporting system. It is necessary for administrations to work together so that access to information is much more effective and transparent.” To date, Observadores del Mar and RedPROMAR had reported, respectively, information on 66 and 104 species considered threatened in Spain, which represents 40.7% and 60.8% of the total species. This brings to the table the usefulness of citizen science to study ecological trends at broader temporal and spatial scales. Furthermore, the authors point out that “these figures could increase considerably if citizen science platforms focus on filling the information gaps and administrations dedicate resources to this.” However, the authors of the report encourage the effective implementation of monitoring programs for threatened species; consolidating and expanding existing programs to the entire coast and the implementation of those for missing species. In the design and implementation of the programs, it would be crucial to integrate citizen science initiatives. “Increasing monitoring programs and better information exchange systems would allow a more effective evaluation of the conservation status of threatened species in Spain, facilitating the implementation of more effective measures for their protection,” conclude the authors of the report. DOWNLOAD REPORT