The BICREF Award for the best dolphin and whale sightings is being set-up as a means to increase local and international awareness for the need to increase monitoring and protection projects for the vulnerable cetacean species in the Central and Southern Mediterranean Region. This BICREF Middle Sea Race Project aims at assisting the Cetacean Research and Conservation Project ongoing in Malta. The BICREF's Award project is possible through the collaboration of the Royal Malta Yacht Club.The BICREF's Rolex Middle Sea Race Project is one of the activities undertaken within the Maltese Biological Conservation Research Project focusing on Cetaceans and their marine environment, set-up, and undertaken.Conservation Biology is the science that deals with the study of endangered species and habitats. It also deals with the study of natural resources and their sustainable use. Planning and managing biodiversity and species survival in the long term is extremely difficult without the biological knowledge of the processes and dynamics of the species and habitats involved. Different techniques in conservation science have been developed in aid to protect vulnerable species through proper assessment and monitoring. As a bio-conservation specialist, Dr. Adriana Vella, Ph.D. is involved in upgrading local knowledge of conservation biology and its applications to the local requirements. 

After involving volunteers in the Maltese cetacean research project launched in 1996, Dr. Vella founded BICREF in 1998 in order to allow these and new volunteers to assist in different conservation research projects as members of a non-government and non-profit organisation. BICREF membership is free since the individual member dedicates time and effort to the project/s he/she decides to assist. No funds are allotted to research or administration salaries! Proper preparation and training toward the research or project would also be undertaken. Local awareness and fund-raising are other activities members would be involved in.As the scientific coordinator, planning and undertaking the conservation research, Adriana is actively involved in all of the projects taken up by BICREF, however dedicated individuals with research experience and biological specialisation also coordinate part of the conservation project/s. 

With all the work needed locally in conservation research this aspect of BICREF will allow more research to develop with the proper expertise and experience.This Cetacean Conservation Research Project has already produced scientific results presented at local and international conferences. The accumulating and valuable scientific data may pave the way to more accurate local awareness and conservation management of legally protected species/habitats, such as dolphins and the sea life that sustains them.In general Cetaceans' sightings records are already being forwarded to Adriana Vella by the AFM, local fishermen, leisure boat and sailing-boat users. This is usually done by either informing the AFM controls room through VHF radio, or contacting Dr. Vella directly on the following:

BICREF PO BOX 30 Hamrun, Malta+356 99429592, +356 23403049 (fax) [email protected]