Starting in 2013, the project will embark on a drive to recruit interested leisure-craft owners, fishermen, and other sea-farers on a voluntary basis to participate in boat-based observations. This action will rely heavily on public relations and publicity, and especially Action E.9.
The annual recruitment drive will take place through adverts appearing on 5 local newspapers on 4 consecutive sundays. It will also be advertised on the project website and the e-newsletter, as well as on any features of the project on other forms of local media. Fishing cooperatives, the Fisheries Department and Transport Malta will also be involved as contact points for specific sea-user groups. The recruitment drive can be advertised on their websites, or people may be contacted directly through the entities’ mailing lists and data bases, within the limits permitted by the Data Protection Act. Since probably all the volunteers showing interest will be accepted, there will not be a lengthy assessment procedure.
A half-day seminar will be organised each year, during which these volunteers will be trained in the identification of cetaceans and turtles, and how to record and map sightings. A standard reporting sheet will be made available to all volunteers to ensure that data is reported using the same format and style, where possible. MEPA will organise the logisitics of the seminar organisation, while the training will be provided by the Project Manager or KAI.
While no direct reimbursements will be made, as a token gift to thank them for participating, volunteers will be given t-shirts and caps indicating that they are forming part of this LIFE+ project. The t-shirts will also serve as publicity for the project, and may help to generate further interest among other potential volunteers. At the end of the volunteering period, a certificate of participation will also be handed out as recognition for the efforts of the volunteers.
The total cost for T-shirts and Caps has been estimated at about €25,000 over the two survey periods. The project is aiming to have 100 boats registering to participate as volunteers in each survey period. For a small island, with a high level of boating activity, especially in the summer, this estimate although quite high, is not unreasonable.
Considering that most of these boats are expected to be leisure craft, the project expects to provide an average of5 sets (cap and t-shirt) per boat; ie 1000 sets. At a rate of €25 per set, this works out to €25,000 (100 boats x 5 sets x 2 survey seasons x €25)
Although the main target is the volunteers recruited for Action E11, any surplus caps and t-shirts will be distributed to the volunteers participating in Action A3.
This recruitment and training will take place between January and June in 2013, and 2014, so that the volunteers are ready to record their observations while out at sea in the summer months.