Citizen Science

© QUIM GARRABOU

Citizen science is research in which citizens participate in the collection of scientific data. First, scientists and managers define the most important monitoring needs of each MPA. The monitoring protocols are then shared with local actors, for example diving centre staff, who gain the tools to self-assess and/or teach the protocols to clients. 

This approach leads to the development of a new and promising business model for scuba diving. Many divers are attracted to this kind of commitment and are willing to pay to be trained as volunteer citizen scientists and participate in scientific diving activities. When monitoring protocols are incorporated into MPA monitoring programmes, already trained volunteers will be able to participate in citizen science activities throughout the Mediterranean Sea, wherever MPA participation protocols are developed.

What have we done in Catalonia?

The implementation plan for citizen science activities within the framework of the MPA-Engage project in the Cap de Creus Natural Park and the Natura 2000 area of the Litoral del Baix Empordà was based on the following plan, developed in two phases: 

A first phase that consisted of an online seminar on marine citizen science, open to all kinds of stakeholders and also from outside the two MPAs participating in the project. The seminar took place online on 20 September and was attended by 42 people from diverse geographic backgrounds and interests.  

The main objectives were:

    • Highlight the role of marine citizen science in marine conservation.
    • Present the marine citizen science activities developed within the framework of the Interreg MED MPA-Engage project.
    • Capitalize on the project’s proposals and learnings in order to give more impetus to citizen science in the marine field within the framework of the Natural Heritage and Biodiversity Observatory of Catalonia.
    • Provide a map of the entities interested in participating in marine citizen science activities.

© Fabio Figurella. PADI EU

A second phase was the training of diving instructors from centres in the area included in the project in the use of the new PADI citizen science module: Basic Research Operators, BRO). 

The course objectives were: 

  • Raise awareness of the possibilities and the importance of marine citizen science activities as an added value to diving activities.
  • Develop the capacities and skills of instructors and diving centres to establish and implement specific citizen science actions. 
  • Provide specific training on two protocols proposed by the project: visual census of fish and mass mortality.

 

The course was held in Cap de Creus Natural Park, on 5 and 6 November 2021, with the collaboration of PADI/DAN and 10 diving centres.