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Banca March and Fundación Oceanogràfic launch the Projecte Posidònia project to protect seabeds in the Valencia Autonomous Community

26 April 2022 Category: Sustainability

The Projecte Posidònia aims to identify and highlight the importance of the Posidonia oceanica meadows and marine diversity in three areas of the Marina Alta.

  • Fundación Oceanogràfic will conduct a mapping study on the seabeds of the Marina Alta area to identify the location of one of the most productive and vulnerable ecosystems in the world, the Posidonia oceanica seagrass meadows.
  • The project is funded by Banca March's Mediterranean Fund, a themed, socially responsible fund that invests in two trends with a lot of potential: the ocean economy and water.
  • Projecte Posidònia consisting of a technical, scientific phase and an interpretive phase to convey the value of the ecosystem to schools and population groups in the towns within the area under study.
  • The results of the mapping can be viewed via a free mobile app which will ensure a sustainable use of the seabeds and will prevent anchoring on the meadows.

Promoted and developed by Fundación Oceanogràfic - Ciutat de les Arts i les Ciències in collaboration with Banca March, through Mediterranean Fund, a themed, socially responsible fund managed by March AM, the Projecte Posidònia project, which was presented today at the Oceanogràfic de València oceanarium, aims to identify and highlight the importance of the Posidonia oceanica meadows and marine diversity in three areas of the Marina Alta.

An in-depth cartographic study will be conducted on the seabeds of three coastal areas with large colonies of posidonia meadows, which are exposed to high levels of seasonal human activity.

The Projecte Posidònia project will run for two years and will study an area of around 7,000 hectares, or ten football pitches, including the Almadraba area (4,616 ha), the Montgó natural park seabed (816 ha) and the Ifac seabed (1,400 ha), all considered Sites of Community Interest (Lugar de Interés Comunitario, LIC) under the Red Natura 2000 initiative.

A side-scan sonar to conduct the mapping

To conduct the study, the Fundación Oceanogràfic specialists are using a side-scan sonar and underwater video cameras for the mapping. This provides high-precision digital images of the seabed to identify the exact location of the Posidonia oceanica, meadows and differentiate between the different types of seabeds, to produce the final maps.

During this morning's presentation at the Oceanogràfic oceanarium, project manager  Francisco Torner explained that “the experience and knowledge acquired between 2017 and 2021 with the Projecte Xàbia by Fundación Oceanogràfic means we can now extrapolate this rigorous scientific method to other areas of the Marina Alta that also boast an extraordinary marine biodiversity. This allows us to preserve an essential element of the natural heritage of the Comunitat Valenciana coast, which is considered one of the most influential ecosystems for human well-being”.

During the presentation, Íñigo Colomo, equities manager at March AM and in charge of managing the Mediterranean Fund, said: “We were excited by the Projecte Posidònia right from the beginning. Like the name suggests, Mediterranean Fund is closely linked to the Mediterranean Sea —we are a family business that was set up in Mallorca almost one hundred years ago—, but with universal appeal. We are firmly committed to preserving the wealth and diversity of seas and oceans, and we strongly believe that the fund's two investment themes represent profitable opportunities, which can be seen in the assets under management and returns gained since we launched the fund in 2019".

The Comunitat Valenciana has the second largest area of posidonia meadows in the Spanish Mediterranean Sea, behind the Balearic Islands. The Alicante province accounts for 75% of this area. This project will therefore play a vital role in monitoring changes in these meadows, which is on the EU's list of priority habitats, and will also serve as a tool to manage and plan spaces and to drive sustainable practices. 

The project's technical-scientific phase

The Projecte Posidònia, which is financed by the Mediterranean Fund, a themed, socially responsible fund by Banca March, has already entered its technical-scientific phase with the mapping of the aforementioned areas, allowing the information already known about the area where the posidonia meadows grow to be updated.

The mapping by this project, as well as the one from the Projecte Xàbia in 2019 that covered the Cabo de San Antonio and Cabo D’Or, can be viewed via a free mobile app, with the aim of ensuring that activities in those areas are sustainable and prevent uncontrolled anchoring or other actions that could harm the Posidonia oceanica meadows.

The mobile app will contain the mapping of more than 50 km of coastline and 9,500 hectares, which constitute one of the areas with the most marine recreational activity in the Autonomous Community.

An interpretive phase targeted at schools

The interpretive phase of the project involves many actions and activities targeted at every group of the population, especially schools, to convey the importance of the marine ecosystem and how it directly and indirectly affects human well-being.

During this phase, cross-cutting initiatives will be undertaken with school pupils from the towns of Dénia, Teulada Moraira and Calp to learn about good environmental marine practices and change behaviour to help protect the sea, as well as developing critical thinking and encouraging scientific vocations among the younger generation.

In this way, Fundación Oceanogràfic hopes to inform and raise awareness about the importance of this marine habitat that is steadily declining, mainly due to human activity.

Mediterranean Fund: investing in the health of oceans

Mediterranean Fund is a themed, socially responsible fund by March Asset Management (AM), Banca March Group's asset manager, which allocates 10% of its management fees to seabed conservation projects, pursuant to Article 8 of the SFDR, promoting social and environmental initiatives along with traditional financial goals.

Mediterranean Fund invests in two trends with great potential related to the UN Sustainable Development Goals for 2030: the oceans as a source of wealth and the need for their conservation, and water as a scarce resource which is indispensable for life on our planet. Its investment universe comprises over 750 companies and has attracted strong subscriptions since its launch. At year end 2021, the fund had assets under management of €136 million and a return of 26.56% (Euro Class A). Since its launch in September 2019, it has posted a return of 49.6%.

The fund currently invests in 48 companies distributed in more than 20 different industrial sectors and global diversified over 15 countries. The portfolio companies include off-shore wind power, marine biotechnology, aquaculture and companies related to biofuels for the decarbonisation of maritime transport.

In line with the decree passed by the Conselleria for the protection of posidonia, with a Marine Surveillance Service launching on 1 June

The Regional Minister for Agriculture, Rural Development, Climate Emergency and Ecological Transition of the Generalitat Valenciana, Mireia Mollà, concluded this morning's presentation by underlining the importance of tackling this project that represents a big step forward in protecting, preserving and conveying the importance of marine biodiversity in the Valencian Autonomous Community and of an ecosystem that plays a vital role in the health of its sea, the posidonia meadows.

Mollà highlighted and applauded the work of Fundación Oceanogràfic and Banca March in launching ‘Projecte Posidònia’ on the Comunitat Valenciana coast.

On 1 June, the Conselleria of which Mollà is Regional Minister announced the launch of the Marine Surveillance Service under the decree for the protection of posidonia, to control and protect this endemic species by raising awareness among the population.

It is a new law to monitor uncontrolled anchoring, increase surveillance of sources of contamination and evaluate the impact of infrastructures planned on these meadows.

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