Marine Protected Areas
as tools for
management and conservation

Wednesday, 26 January 2022
Participant # 13: University of Malta (UMT) Print E-mail

Marine Ecology Research Group, Department of Biology, University of Malta, Msida MSDS06, Malta


Scientists:    Prof. Dr. Patrick J. SCHEMBRI: benthic ecology, marine biodiversity, human impact on and conservation of marine living resources.

                   Dr. Joseph A. BORG: benthic ecology, seagrass ecology, habitat mapping and environmental monitoring.

Dr. Philip SMITH: behavioural ecology, fisheries ecology, MPAs

Mr. Mark DIMECH: fisheries and benthic community ecology, fisheries effects on marine benthic coomunities and habitats 


Specific skills:     The Department of Biology within the University of Malta is a teaching and research department with five full time academic staff and a number of part-time and associate academics, and research and teaching assistants. The Marine Ecology Research Group (MERG) consists of Prof Patrick J. Schembri (group leader and professor of biology), Dr Joseph A. Borg (lecturer); two part-time research assistants and postgraduate students. The work of the group consists mainly of (1) mapping and characterization of the infralittoral and upper circalittoral benthic habitats of the Maltese Islands; (2) drawing up inventories of the biota and the biotic assemblages present; (3) assessing the resource potential (from the point of view of the ‘service’ role of the ecosystem e.g. as feeding grounds, breeding grounds, nursery areas and refugia) of the habitats investigated; (4) assessment of anthropogenic impacts on these habitats; and (5) conservation management of coastal and marine living resources. Dr. Smith is in the associate institute University Marine Biological Station Millport (UMBSM), University of London (UK), where Dr. Schembri is Senior Honorary Research Associate. In recent years, much of the research at UMBSM has focussed on fisheries-related themes of direct practical and socioeconomic significance. In particular, the team members have participated in EU-funded studies of Norway lobster fishery biology, fishing impacts and marine protected areas. These applied studies have been underpinned by fundamental studies of population dynamics, behaviour and physiology. Specific skills of his team needed in EMPAFISH are stock assessment, mapping fishing effort, seabed survey and classification, surveying marine benthic biodiversity and studying movement patterns.

Role in the project: Participating in WPs 1, 2, 3, 4 and 6; supplying data from case studies #19 and 20


Track record on MPAs and/or fisheries (max. 5 works): 

Schembri, P.J. (1995) Threatened habitats as a criterion for selecting coastal protected areas in the Maltese Islands.  Rapport du Congrès de la Commission Internationale pour l'Exploration Scientifique de la Mer Méditerranée 34: 128.

Schembri, P.J. (1999) Marine protected areas in the Maltese Islands: status and problems. In: Briand (Ed.) Scientific design and monitoring of Mediterranean marine protected areas. CIESM Workshop Series nº 8: 45-58

Dimech, M.; Borg J.A. & Schembri, P.J. (2002) Changes in the structure of a Posidonia oceanica meadow and in the diversity of associated decapod, mollusc and echinoderm assemblages, resulting from inputs of waste from a marine fish farm (Malta, Central Mediterranean). Bulletin of Marine Science 71(3): 1309­-1321.

Deidun, A.; Azzopardi, M.; Saliba, S. & Schembri, P.J. (2003) Low faunal diversity on Maltese sandy beaches: fact or artefact? Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science 58 (supplement 1): 83-92.

Smith, I.P., Jensen, A.C., Collins, K.J. & Mattey, E.L. (2001) Movement of wild European lobsters, Homarus gammarus (L.), in natural habitat. Marine Ecology Progress Series 222: 177–186.



EC projects: BIOMAERL: Maerl biodiversity, functional structure and anthropogenic impacts MAST III (MAS3-CT95-0020) (1996-1999)

MECO: Bases for the integrated sustainable management of Mediterranean sensitive coastal ecosystems INCO-DC programme (ERB IC 18-CT98-0270) (1998-2001)

‘Fauna Europaea’ (EVK2-2002-00544) thematic network funded under the Fifth Framework Programme.

VALFEZ: Value of fishery exclusion zones as a fisheries management tool. FP5 (QLK5-CT1999-1271) (2000–2002)

EDFAM: European decapod fisheries assessment and management options. FP5 (QLRT-1999-01272) (2000–2003) 

European Union
Sixth Framework Programme