Manel Gazo

Mediterranean monk seal Research and Conservation Advisor IDP

Manel Gazo is a researcher and professor at University of Barcelona conducting his research at the Large Marine Vertebrates Conservation and Research Group in the Department of Evolutionary Biology, Ecology and Environmental Sciences at the Faculty of Biology. In 2002 he obtained his PhD on Biological Sciences with his dissertation on “Reproductive Biology of the Mediterranean monk sea (Monachus monachus): from birth to independence”. He also holds two MSc in Marine Aquaculture (UB) and in Management on Non-profit Organizations (ESADE business School). Being the Mediterranean monk seal his main field of study he has also conducted research on the ecology and applied management to conservation on other pinniped species, cetaceans, sea turtles and elasmobranchs. He has participated in 41 competitive research projects, 8 as PI, and has executed about a hundred projects, grants and contracts in Research and Conservation (71) and Training, Dissemination and Environmental Awareness (27). He has published 35+ scientific articles in indexed journals.

Relevant contributions of his research has been direct application on Mediterranean monk seal conservation, in the establishment of Marine Protected areas and mitigation measures for Mediterranean cetaceans. His work on Mediterranean monk seal, target of his PhD, allowed to advance significantly in the knowledge of this species, including such basic aspects as the existence of sexual dimorphism, breeding season, birth rates, mortality and perinatal survival, age of sexual maturity, feeding behavior of pups and adults, duration of lactation, or the transition to solid food. The results of the research were quickly adopted by the management and conservation plans of the international organizations responsible for the survival of the species and allowed changing management procedures and monitoring methods for breeding areas He is still working on the conservation of the species and he co-authored the Implementation of the Regional Strategy for the Conservation of Monk Seal in the Mediterranean. UNEP/MED (2019) and currently working on the 2023 Mediterranean Quality Status Repot for UNEP to apply Common Indicators and Ecological Objectives to the Mediterranean Monk seal. The second relevant contribution refers to research on the interaction of marine vertebrates with anthropogenic activities, being the first researcher to conduct  field tests with acoustic deterrent devices to prevent predation of dolphins in fishing nets in Spanish waters. His paper resulted in a reference publication for other tests and trials of these devices in Spanish and Mediterranean waters, and for their subsequent regulation. He has been also the author of the publication regarding the areas of Catalonia and Balearic Islands (Northern Sector) of the Mediterranean Project: “Identification of areas of special interest for the conservation of cetaceans in the Spanish Mediterranean” – Ministry of Environment, most of the identified areas have been currently listed as Natura 2000 marine, being the most relevant the SPAMI ‘Mediterranean Cetacean Migration Corridor (46000km2) established in 2018.

Currently (2024 to 2027) he is the co-leader of the EU Horizon Europe program, REDUCE project (Reducing bycatch of threatened megafauna in the East Central Atlantic) a consortium of 11 partners form 5 different countries.

In December 2019 he co-chaired the first World Marine Mammal Conference – Together for Science and Conservation, where the Barcelona Declaration was promoted establishing the main lines of research and conservation on marine mammals for the next 10 years.

He is currently advising different Administrations and Institutions: National Expert Group on Underwater Noise, Spanish Inventory of Marine Species, Spanish Marine Strategies and Affection of New Renewable Energies on Biodiversity; ACCOBAMS – Agreement on the Conservation of Cetaceans in the Black Sea Mediterranean Sea and Contiguous Atlantic Area and UNEP – RAC/SPA (United Nations Environmental Program).

Manel is an experienced diver, accomplished field marine mammalogist and skipper He speaks Catalan, Spanish and English and he has an intermediate knowledge of French