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Press Releases


Press Release Archives




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2016 Press Releases


28 Sept:  EuroBirdwatch 2016


19 August:  GONHS Repeats concerns over illegal fishing.


07 July:  EU Law to remain


17 June: Opening of the Tuna Fishing Season


24 May:  Conch Rake fishing must be 'Nipped in the Bud' says GONHS


20th May: GONHS concerned about Lathbury Stadium


20th May:  GONHS and ESG support Remain in EU Campaign


12th May:  GONHS welcomes further protection for the Sand Slopes


5th May:  GONHS Elects New General Secretary


11 Apr:  GONHS supports SDDG stance on Balloons


6 Apr:  GONHS welcomes end to baloon mass releases


29th Feb:  GONHS redoubles efforts to end balloon releases.







28 Sept:



EuroBirdwatch 2016

2nd October 8:00am at the Alameda Botanic Gardens, followed by a sea watch at Europa Point as from 3pm.

In its role as a partner of BirdLife International, GONHS will once again be participating in EuroBirdwatch this October. At this time of the year, millions of migratory birds are leaving Europe and flying to their wintering grounds in Africa.

This year, 36 national partners of BirdLife International in Europe and Central Asia invite people to observe migratory birds and hear interesting facts about bird migration and the threats they face during their journeys. In Europe, many hundreds of activities are planned. The events in Gibraltar will take place on Sunday the 2nd October as from 8:00am at the Alameda Gardens during the morning, where there will be a bird ringing demonstration and a bird of prey display. During the afternoon, GONHS will be observing seabirds, other migrating birds and cetaceans at Europa Point.

A study conducted by BirdLife International and published in 2015, in which GONHS participated, shows that 25 million migratory birds are being caught around the Mediterranean annually. And after overcoming that huge hurdle, most birds still have to cross the inhospitable Sahara desert and other dangers along the way, twice a year. BirdLife partner organisations in the countries involved are making it their top priority to combat this useless killing for which there is no excuse. Gibraltar is an example to the Mediterranean in this sense, as all hunting of wild birds is illegal.

EuroBirdwatch is an annual event comprising hundreds of nationally organised activities. The number of birds and participants are counted and reported to the European office of BirdLife International. Last year, 41 countries in Europe and Central Asia organised 1093 events, with more than 32,000 people turning out to watch and help count the birds, of which more than 5 million individuals were observed!

GONHS hopes that the public will be able to join us in celebrating the wonder of bird migration.


19 Aug:

GONHS Repeats Concerns Over Illegal Fishing

The Gibraltar Ornithological & Natural History Society (GONHS) has written to the Minister for the Environment and Climate Change, copied to the Commissioner of the Royal Gibraltar Police, to ask why the fishing vessel Virgen Carmen Primero, from the Puerto de la Atunara in La Linea, is allowed to fish with nets in British Gibraltar Territorial Waters close to Eastern Beach on a daily basis.

The vessel's track, which can be followed on shows repeated forays from it's home port into Gibraltar waters. The vessel can also be seen by beachgoers and surely by RGP and DECC vessels tasked with patrolling the area.

GONHS has asked the Minister whether there is any reason as to why this vessel appears to be immune from being stopped and arrested or reported for process for breaching Section 10 (1) (ba) of the Nature Protection Act 1991.

It calls on both authorities to enforce the law of Gibraltar at all times.





Some of the Spanish fishing boats operating with impunity today from the east side of the Rock.  Photo:  J. Sanchez



07 July:


EU Law to remain


The Gibraltar Ornithological & Natural History Society (GONHS) notes that the Minister for the Environment and Climate Change, Dr John Cortes, highlighted the importance of the EU to the environment and made a commitment to continue applying such laws as the EU may make in this regard.

Prior to the EU Referendum, GONHS issued a press release together with the Environmental Safety Group, highlighting the very positive role that the EU has had in conserving European wildlife and keeping our environment clean.

GONHS is delighted that Minister Cortes has vowed to continue applying the EU’s environmental laws. Furthermore, his commitment to ensure that departures achieve better standards, not worse, is brave and progressive.

Gibraltar’s habitats, wildlife and people will be safer and healthier for it.





17 June:


Opening of the Tuna Fishing Season


The tuna fishing season is starting. From Thursday 16th June to 14th October, those with a Class K licence will be allowed to fish the endangered Bluefin Tuna until the quota set by the Government of Gibraltar is filled or the season ends.

However, GONHS would like those engaged in tuna fishing to be aware that humans are not the only anglers on the sea; many seabirds such as our shags and shearwaters feed on the same bait-fish as the tuna, as do resident species of dolphins and other cetaceans.

Licensed anglers and other mariners are asked to give due consideration to wildlife and to give cetaceans and seabirds plenty of room. The birds are especially vulnerable when resting (known as “rafting”) on the water because they need time and distance to become airborne and to rest between feeds.

In the past, boats have motored through dolphins to put their vessels over tuna, in the belief that dolphins follow tuna. This practice is dangerous for dolphins and poor game-fishing practice.

In the meantime, GONHS urges the Government of Gibraltar to review data generated by fishing activity to ensure that Gibraltar has a truly safe and sustainable quota for this endangered species.






24 May:





Conch Rake Fishing Must Be 'Nipped in the Bud' Says GONHS

Unfortunately conch rake fishing has recently taken place in our waters, mainly sighted on the Eastern side close to the shoreline, without any apparent action by the authorities, despite the considerable maritime assets available to the RGP and the Department of the Environment.

Aside from the political importance of having Gibraltar's nature protection laws respected within British Gibraltar Territorial Waters, we must also remember why these laws are in place.

Conch rake-fishing doesn't just remove the target species for your dinner-plate. The rakes indiscriminately remove everything in their path; destroying the important seabed habitat which the local abundance and biodiversity of our waters depend on. We must nip this practice in the bud before it can do any further damage.

GONHS once again points out that the raking of the seabed to catch any marine creature is illegal under Section 10 (1) (ba) of the Nature Protection Act 1991.

GONHS wishes to see the law to be upheld robustly and not flouted with impunity as is currently the case.








20th May:



GONHS concerned about Lathbury Stadium

GONHS notes with concern that the GFA's plans to develop a football stadium at Lathbury would require the MOD to release some areas of land on Windmill Hill Flats.

Windmill Hill Flats, a site that is included under the EU Habitats Directive as a Special Area of Conservation, is an extremely important habitat that is part of the Gibraltar Nature Reserve.

The importance of the habitats on Windmill Hill Flats to Gibraltar's biodiversity cannot be overstated. Not least, the site is the stronghold for the Barbary Partridge on the Rock. Any encroachment onto the site would threaten to seriously compromise the site's ecology.

A proposed development at the site would require a full Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) under Gibraltar planning law and an Appropriate Assessment (AA) under European Law. These would need to consider the full spectrum of the site's ecological assets, from plants and invertebrates to birds and foraging bats.

GONHS would oppose any development that threatens the boundaries and integrity of the Gibraltar Nature Reserve.




20th May: Joint Press Release







GONHS and ESG support Remain In EU Campaign



The Environmental Safety Group (ESG) and The Gibraltar Ornithological & Natural History Society (GONHS) have for decades lobbied for a clean, healthy and biodiverse environment.


We fully recognise the importance of our membership of the European Union to the environment, so that our legislature continues to meet the standards set in Brussels.


Indeed, EU Directives are in many ways considered the gold standard in environmental legislation.


The EU Habitats and Birds Directives protect our most vulnerable species, habitats and ecological formations.  Gibraltar's extensive network of protected areas is due to the Habitats Directive, whereas European Law protects some of our most emblematic species, from the Barbary Partridge to the Gibraltar Funnel-web Spider.


The quality of our air and water is monitored regularly and should meet EU standards.  The EU aims to ensure that the air that we breathe and the water in which we bathe are healthy and clean. Gibraltar’s intended Sewage Plant is also due to an EU Directive. Its Waste Policy and Legislation provide targets for recycling and waste management that Member States must meet, whilst it’s Renewable Energy Targets compel us to combat human-influenced climate change.


The EU seeks to tackle the most pressing environmental issues of our time, and it sets an example for the world to follow.


Gibraltar’s environment does not exist in a bubble.  However intractable and politicised environmental issues can become at a transborder level, impacts and solutions can only be addressed via European Directives.


Our exclusion from the European Union would significantly set back environmental progress and protection at every level, within and beyond our borders.


GONHS and the ESG therefore strongly support remaining in the EU.  In doing so, we join major environmental organisations such as Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace and the UK’s own Wildlife Trust in calling for a 'Remain In' vote.


We urge all Gibraltarians to vote 'IN' on June the 23rd.  Our environment and health demand it.







12th May


GONHS welcomes further protection for Sand Slopes


GONHS welcomes the expansion of the Gibraltar Nature Reserve to the last remaining unprotected part of the east side sand slopes, which it has always advocated and campaigned for.



The area in grey is now included within the Gibraltar Nature Reserve


This designation as nature reserve of the lower part of the slopes now ensures that all of this stabilised sand dune, which is an important habitat and geological formation, is protected by law. It highlights the importance of this area to Gibraltar’s biodiversity.

The lower sand slopes were the only section of the slopes that remained vegetated when most of the slopes were covered by the old water catchment, and served as a source from which fauna and flora could colonise the restored habitat above it. Indeed, some plant species are still
restricted to this lower portion of the slopes and are found nowhere else on the Rock.

The initial omission of this section from the Gibraltar Nature Reserve raised concerns about its future, but GONHS is hopeful that its designation will now preserve the integrity of this important habitat and landscape feature indefinitely.




GONHS Elects New General Secretary


Alex Menez has been elected as the new General Secretary of GONHS, following a GONHS Council meeting held on Wednesday 4th May. GONHS Council thanked the outgoing General Secretary, Charles Perez, who has held this post for the last few years and remains on council.


Elected members of GONHS Council are Jean Paul Latin, Alex Menez, Charles Perez, John Sanchez, Jill Yeoman and Albert Yome.
Ex Officio members (i.e., heads of sections) are Keith Bensusan (Strait of Gibraltar Bird Observatory), Richard Durell (Caves & Cliffs Section), Rhian Guillem (Invertebrates Section), Leslie Linares (Plants Section head), Vincent Robba (Raptor Rescue Unit) and Eric Shaw (Marine Section).

Harry Van Gils retired from GONHS council after many years of service and was warmly thanked by his colleagues. He remains an active member of the GONHS bird section.




GONHS supports SDGG stance on Balloons


The Gibraltar Ornithological & Natural History Society (GONHS) has expressed its disappointment with comments in the local press in which the SDGG is unfairly criticised for its decision to discontinue mass balloon releases.

Gibraltar has already been widely praised locally and internationally for taking the well-considered and mature decision of discontinuing this polluting custom, based on ample and sound evidence.

GONHS stands by the SDGG’s decision to stop this polluting practice and looks forward to discover what replacement celebration will replace it from this National Day onwards, which given the wealth of creative talent in Gibraltar, should be something we can all be proud of.




GONHS Welcomes End to Mass Balloon Releases

The Gibraltar Ornithological and Natural History Society (GONHS) welcomes the statement from the SDGG announcing its decision to cease the mass balloon release as part of Gibraltar’s National Day celebrations.

GONHS has been campaigning for an end to this polluting practice for over a decade, together with the ESG and more recently other local organisations and individuals who have supported the campaign. It thanks all of its partners in this process.

GONHS is particularly grateful to UN Patron of the Oceans Lewis Pugh, himself no stranger to Gibraltar and a leading campaigner against overfishing, pollution and climate change. GONHS is certain that Lewis’s visit to Gibraltar, at GONHS’ invitation, provided the final impetus for the ending of the balloon release.






GONHS Redoubles Efforts to End Balloon Releases

Last week GONHS was delighted to host the UNEP Patron of the Seas, pioneer swimmer Lewis Pugh.

Albert Yome, who is heading the GONHS effort and had closely followed Lewis' adventures over many years, had been involved with our campaign to end mass balloon releases in Gibraltar since at least 2006*. Albert had noted that Lewis had succeeded in a similar campaign in South Africa, which had seen this polluting activity outlawed there, and so asked for his help.

We were therefore delighted when he not only offered to help, but said he would be coming to Gibraltar himself, and we set about arranging meetings with key decision makers.
The details of his visit were well covered by the media, but GONHS would publicly like to thank him for answering our call for help.

GONHS will now be working with Lewis and the ESG, with the hope of building a partnership of local organisations to achieve our goal of ending mass balloon releases in Gibraltar.

In reiterating its position, GONHS would particularly like to thank the SDGG for meeting with Lewis Pugh during his visit and for engaging with us over the past year.

Both of our organisations have a ‘G’ in our initials and we both care deeply about our Gibraltarian homeland, whether that be in defence of self-determination or of our environment.

We are lucky to have a deep pool of creative talent in Gibraltar: artists, poets, dancers, musicians and more. The challenge now is to find another way of celebrating National Day without standing on a beach wondering where what went up will come down, and what damage they will do to what.

* (Nature News -Autumn 2006) - "What Goes Up Must Come Down, by Albert Yome - In the months leading up to National Day 2006, GONHS quietly appealed to the Ministry of the Environment, asking it not to include a “Balloon Release” as part of the day’s festivities. Balloons were released; apparently it was too late to change the plans. The Ministry has indicated that it will look into the matter. GONHS is now publicly asking Government to replace the balloon release with a more environmentally friendly gesture.

Perhaps you have your own ideas for an alternative event? Please let us know at GONHS, PO Box 843, Gibraltar, or"








2015 Press Releases



25th September:  EuroBirdwatch2015

10th September:  International Bat Night

13th August:  Balloons Release

19th March:  The Mount:- Expressions of Interest





EuroBirdwatch 2015 - fascinating Bird Migration


Millions of migrating birds will leave Europe during these weeks, flying to their wintering places in Africa. BirdLife International invites people in Europe to take the opportunity on 4 October 2015 to discover the fascinating world of bird migration.

BirdLife International is a global alliance of conservation organisations working in more than 120 countries, which together form the leading authority on the status of birds, their habitats and the issues and problems affecting bird life. In Gibraltar, the local BirdlIfe International Partner is the Gibraltar Ornithological and Natural History Society (GONHS).

This year, the national partners of BirdLife International of 37 countries in Europe and Central Asia once again invite people to join them and learn bout migrating birds. In Europe, many hundreds of activities are planned, including on the Rock.

A recent study by BirdLife International shows that 25 million (!) migratory birds are being caught around the Mediterranean annually. And after overcoming that huge hurdle, most birds still have to cross the inhospitable Sahara desert and other dangers along the way, twice a year. BirdLife partner organisations in the countries involved are making it their top priority to combat this useless killing, for which there is no excuse. Fortunately, Gibraltar stands out as a Mediterranean country where no hunting takes place.

The aim of EuroBirdwatch 2015 is to raise awareness for the wonders of bird migration and the needs of the migratory birds on the breeding areas, the flyways and in the wintering areas in the Mediterranean and in Africa. EuroBirdwatch is an annual event comprising hundreds of nationally organised activities. Last year, 38 countries in Europe and Central Asia took part in organising 1184 events, with more than 33,000 people turning out to watch and help count the birds. The numbers, when it comes to the birds, are even more staggering: almost 7,5 million birds were counted last year, the highest in the history of the event!

GONHS will be organising several events to celebrate EuroBirdwatch 2015, all of which are open to the public.

The first of these will be a bird ringing demonstration at the Gibraltar Botanic Gardens, where migratory and other birds will be caught using mist nets and then ringed by licensed bird ringers, with specific measurements being taken, before being released back into the wild.

Later, the Raptor Unit will host a bird of prey display and the unit members will be on hand to provide further information on how each bird is cared for by the unit, which in addition to rehabilitation also breeds rare birds of prey such as the Lesser Kestrel for subsequent release into the wild.

In the afternoon, observers will be at the Europa Point Marine Observatory looking for birds (and cetaceans) in the Strait of Gibraltar.
Key times and locations (all Sunday 4th October 2013)

8am-11am Bird Ringing – up Heathfield Steps and left at the entrance to the Alameda Botanic Gardens.

10.30am-12.30pm Bird of Prey Display – between the top of Heathfield Steps and The Cottage.

Please remember that dogs are not allowed within the gardens.

3pm – 6pm - Europa Point Marine Observatory. Below and to the left of the Harding's Battery mound.



International Bat Night




International Bat Night takes place every year since 1997 in more than 30 countries.

Locally, the Gibraltar Ornithological & Natural History Society (GONHS) is hosting this event for the eight year, on Saturday 12th September.

Nature conservation agencies and NGOs from across Europe pass on information to the public about the way bats live and their needs with presentations, exhibitions and bat walks, often offering the opportunity to listen to bat sounds with the support of ultrasound technology. We re once again joined by our partners in the Gib-Bats Project from the Gibraltar Museum.

The event will be based in the Open Air Theatre at the Alameda Botanic Gardens, with project members on hand with ultrasonic bat detectors, through which bats’ echolocation calls can be heard. Those attending the event should also be able to see flying bats, either at twilight or as they fly across lit-up areas.

This event is suitable for all, although primary and middle school pupils are usually the most enthusiastic participants. The event starts at 8pm with an informal introductory talk, which usually lasts until the first bats swoop in across the stage or over the pond.

We shall be handing out copies of a leaflet, ‘Our Amazing Bats – An Introduction to the Bats of Gibraltar’, which has been kindly funded by the Ministry for the Environment. These describe the types of bats found in Gibraltar, where and how they live, what they eat and how they catch their prey, as well as aspects of their conservation.

GONHS would also like to thank the management and staff at the Alameda Botanic Gardens for allowing us to use the Open Air Theatre and for providing lighting and sound support.

For further information please email or ‘Like’ the Gib-Bats Project Facebook Page at and join the event there.

Press release contact: Albert Yome, GONHS

Further information - GONHS is a Partner of BatLife Europe

This is the 19th year of International Bat Night (formerly European Bat Night) held under the auspices of UNEP EUROBATS - Agreement on the Conservation of Populations of European Bats




Balloons Release


The Gibraltar Ornithological & Natural History Society (GONHS) has today written to the Chief Minister and the Self-Determination for Gibraltar Group in order to reiterate its opposition to the release of balloons as part of Gibraltar's National Day festivities.

GONHS has previously expressed its concerns about the environmental impact of such a massive balloon release, particularly their effect on the marine environment, where most balloons will probably end up after these become deflated.

The UK's Marine Conservation Society (MCS) has described how “Balloons are mistaken for food by many species of wildlife, especially turtles. Once balloons have been eaten they can block digestive systems and cause animals to starve. The string on balloons can also entangle and trap animals.”

Aside from the effect on marine life, deflated balloons litter urban and countryside spaces. Although the majority of balloons used in intentional releases are latex - also known as biodegradable balloons - even they can take several months, if not years, to break down.

For the reasons described above, GONHS has asked the Chief Minister and to the Self-Determination for Gibraltar Group (SDGG) to call for an end to this practice.

Our knowledge of the impact that such seemingly harmless actions can have on the environment has improved considerably since 1992 when the first celebrations were held, just as Gibraltarian society has evolved and matured. We should thus be looking to celebrate our identity in a manner than is consonant with sound environmental practices.

GONHS belongs to several international bodies, including IUCN, BirdLife International, BatLife Europe and the UK Overseas Territories Conservation Forum. These balloon releases detract from the valuable conservation work which GONHS is carrying out locally and in partnership with these and other organisations.




The Mount:

Expressions of Interest.





The Gibraltar Heritage Trust (GHT) and the Gibraltar Ornithological and Natural History Society (GONHS) are pleased to see the important historical and natural heritage area of The Mount released by the Government for expressions of interest, as per the official notice dated 13/03/15. Both organisations have, for many years, been concerned at the run down state of most of the Mount grounds and at the dilapidated state of most of its buildings. Both organisations feel that it is critical that any development of the site must be carefully managed within strict guidelines aimed at preserving and promoting the uniqueness and importance of the area.


We recognise that the Mount and its grounds provide an unparalleled opportunity for development and are mindful of the Government’s vision as outlined in the invitation for expressions of interest.


In this regard, and to provide the necessary safeguards for the protection of this unique site, we would recommend that the following be taken into consideration when examining the various schemes submitted.


  • The mature, natural woodland that comprises the eastern section of the property is a very important habitat, because it is one of the only remaining vestiges of woodland left in Gibraltar.  This area is included within the boundary of the Gibraltar Nature Reserve and is protected by the Nature Protection Act.  Any proposed development should have no impact at all on this section.  Additional ecological surveys of the flora and fauna of the grounds and woodland should be carried out, so that a management plan can be implemented for this natural habitat.
  • That the Mount, its grounds, gardens and buildings should be listed in Schedule A of the current and any future amendment of the Heritage Act(s). This would provide a means of ensuring the protection and preservation of all significant elements on the site. Listing would also provide a quality assurance mechanism for the kind of materials and workmanship that would eventually be deployed in any approved redevelopment scheme.
  • We would recommend, additionally, that appropriate surveys of the built environment be carried out. This would identify the significance of each element as well as highlighting those requiring immediate attention for their protection.
  • That responsibility for the site should rest with one entity, with a view to achieving an integrated management approach and appropriate accountability.
  • That the conditions of the Lease granted to any interested party should adequately reflect the sensitive nature of the site:
    • Permission for commercial use should be under strict guidelines with no adverse effect on the buildings, flora or fauna of the site.
    • No further development other than on the existing hard standing ground should be allowed.
    • These developments are to be low and in keeping with the character of the site. The extension of the main buildings either in expansion of footprint or in height is to be avoided, as is the demolition of any parts of the extant building, including the remaining Northern Gatehouse.
    • No detrimental access to the various areas of the site should be allowed.
    • No construction in currently landscaped or wooded areas should be allowed.
  • That any scheme considered by the Government, should be subjected to a thorough feasibility study to ensure the sustainability and financial viability of such a scheme, prior to its acceptance.
  • That plans for the development of the site should be subjected to a full Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA).


The Mount is a multi-faceted site with many elements requiring protection and management. However, we also recognise that the Mount and its grounds provide a unique opportunity to provide Gibraltar with a multi-purpose facility that can cater for a multiplicity of needs, the prospect of which is exciting. The point of departure for our comments above are from the standpoint that we consider the site’s character is integral to its heritage value and appeal. It is crucial that any schemes proposed for the site take this into account as a key influencing factor.


Perhaps a model to be considered could be such as that used by the National Trust, where the public pays to enter the grounds and make use of the amenities within, such as for example a restaurant, exhibition or event rooms. Use of the grounds and facilities for weddings, commercial events, functions and catering would all generate income without compromising the site’s character. The redevelopment and use of this historical site needs to be based on a holistic vision with a commitment from a successful party not only to protect, preserve and restore the Mount’s buildings and grounds, but also to ensure its sustainable long-term management.


Historical Summary of the Mount and its grounds:


The history of the Mount dates back to before the Great Siege (1779-83), when Major William Green (1725-1811) was posted to the Rock as Chief Engineer in 1760 to strengthen the rock’s defences. In 1777 he was promoted to Colonel. Although Green’s official residence was Engineer House in Engineer Lane (today the site of Hindu Temple), he also acquired a private residence. In 1775 he was granted a piece of land in the south district on the proviso that he cleared it at his own expense. There, Col. Green built his house, which he called Mount Pleasant, a name later given by the Eastern Telegraph Company for the property in South Barrack Road.


During the Great Siege the Green family often lived at Mount Pleasant, where a bomb proof shelter had been built under the southern end of the tennis court – today used as a water tank. The family moved permanently to Mount Pleasant in 1781 after Engineer House was destroyed by a bombardment. Col. Green lived at the Mount until 1783, upon which point he returned to England, after having been stationed in Gibraltar for 23 years.


Until 1785, the Admiralty Commissioner in charge of Naval Stores had lived in Irish Town, but by the end of Siege so many buildings were in ruins that the Admiralty decided to rent Mount Pleasant from Col. Green until finally buying it from him in 1797. The original Navy residence was built in 1797 and was further extended in 1811. The Navy renamed the property The Mount. Major alterations followed in 1846, the stables were built in 1859 and the property was further enlarged in 1905. The building has over the centuries been home to various Admiralty Commissioners, Senior Naval Officers, Admiral Superintendent, Flag Officers and the Commander British Forces (CBF). Altogether some 74 Senior Naval Officers.


Its grounds are home to many mature specimens and one of Gibraltar’s only woodland habitats (most areas of Gibraltar were stripped of trees post Great Siege in the search for building materials). Over the centuries, visiting dignitaries to Gibraltar have planted trees, such as King George V in 1912 and as recently as Princess Anne in 2004.


Since the land and buildings were returned to the Government of Gibraltar in 1998, there have been numerous proposals for its use ranging from an International Music Conservatory to a study centre of Mediterranean Studies, to a Parador style hotel.






Select Press Release title to link directly to item.

2014 Press Releases

10 December:  Coastal Protection Works Camp Bay

21 August:  Mediterranean Ribbed Limpet Translocation

20 August: North Gorge Re-development

02 April BatLife Europe welcomes GONHS as a new Partner

14.03.2014 Feetham Mistaken

06.03.2014 Europa Point Football Stadium









10 December





Coastal Protection Works at Camp Bay



The Gibraltar Ornithological & Natural History Society (GONHS) is deeply concerned about the ongoing coastal protection works along the Camp Bay coastline. There had been no prior notification of, or consultation on this, at least with GONHS as is customary.  


These works, which have been attributed to emergency measures, should nevertheless have followed the proper procedures and should have sought advice from locally-available expertise.  Although GONHS understands that the Department of the Environment has now stopped the works and will be carrying out a retrospective assessment, damage to coastal habitat may have already taken place and protected species may have been lost, as the revetment seems already to be close to completion.  


Camp Bay holds a population of the endangered Patella ferruginea and hopes that these works have not compromised the survival of these individuals.  The revetment also provided habitat for other protected species, such as the Date Mussel Lithophaga lithophaga.


GONHS is also concerned with the composition of the rock substrate used in the revetment, some of which is clearly not limestone.  In addition to this, a range of unsuitable material has been used to fill in spaces between rocks.  This will have a negative impact on the recolonisation of marine organisms in this area.


GONHS urges the Government to exercise caution and follow the correct processes when such works are carried out because, as is frequently stressed by the Government itself, Gibraltar hosts some very important marine habitats and species.



Coastal Protection worksalong Camp Bay                       Photos:  K. Bensusan


Revetment wall includes unsuitable materials such as building debris with reinforcment bars









21 August



GONHS pleased with Mediterranean Ribbed Limpet Translocation

GONHS is satisfied with the effort made to relocate over 70 Mediterranean Ribbed Limpets Patella ferruginea, which has employed the safest solution with which to translocate this very rare and endangered species.

The Mediterranean Ribbed Limpet is possibly the most threatened marine species in the Mediterranean, with the Rock holding the healthiest and most viable population in Europe. Gibraltar clearly has a responsibility to conserve this species, which is protected under Schedule 3 of the Nature Protection Act and Annex IV of the EU Habitats Directive. Failure to do so could result in infraction proceedings by the EU.

A similar translocation programme took place in 2010 and it was from this that rates of survivorship were ascertained. The fact that authorities from other jurisdictions look to Gibraltar for information on the ecology and conservation of the species speaks volumes of the importance of Gibraltar and its experts for this Limpet.

GONHS further urges the Government to maximise the creation of new habitat for this and other marine life, and to use limestone rocks and blocks of a type that is favoured by the Ribbed Mediterranean Limpet in all new developments that border the intertidal zone.




20 August


North Gorge Re-development

GONHS notes with interest the recent Government notice of a tender for the redevelopment of North Gorge into an 'Eco Residential Scheme'.

The North Gorge is a unique site in Gibraltar, in terms of its geology and ecology. The cave/fissure systems below the site are distinct from the karstic systems elsewhere on the Rock. They tell a very different geological story to other caves in Gibraltar and should be conserved on this basis alone. In addition, the gorge habitat harbours the only known populations of a few plant species in Gibraltar, and these in turn support populations of insects that are restricted to the area. Not least, this is because the gorge habitat is itself unique on the Rock.

GONHS would welcome any move that enhances the appreciation of the site's geological and ecological interest and would oppose development that leads to further deterioration of the gorge. Specifically, GONHS has identified what it considers to be a number of red lines with regard to any proposal for the development of the site, namely:

1) An extensive geotechnical survey should be carried out before development is considered. Should any development take place, firm evidence should be provided beforehand that the works would not compromise the underlying cave/fissure systems.

2) The cliff habitat within and around the gorge should remain intact, without any stabilisation, descaling or removal of vegetation that may result in the deterioration of the present habitat. Likewise, all rocky outcrops with vegetation within the gorge should be conserved.

3) Should any development occur, the special plants at the site should be protected from the effects of the development throughout the entire process. Furthermore, a complete botanical survey should be carried out in order to catalogue and identify all species and habitat formations within the gorge.

4) There are historical records of bat roosts at North Gorge and a comprehensive survey should be carried out to ascertain whether these are still present. Should any be detected, they should be protected, including flight paths to and from roosts. Furthermore, the design of lighting within the proposed development should take the bats into account.

5) Access should continue to be granted to the public, so that people can appreciate this site's locally unique natural features. Access should also be facilitated for any bona fide researchers wishing to study the cave/fissure systems.

GONHS regrets that the restoration of this habitat back to its natural state has never been consideredand is concerned that natural features may be damaged irreparably during a construction process. It will follow the issue closely and hopes that, if the site is to be developed as an 'Eco' residential scheme, the above points will be respected and form part of the tender award process. It further urges the Government to abandon plans to develop the site if investigations raise concern about the integrity of the geological features that lie below and around the site.


02 April


BatLife Europe welcomes GONHS

as a new Partner


BatLife Europe is an international non-governmental conservation organisation built from a partnership of national bat conservation organisations that are committed to promoting the conservation of all bat species and their habitats throughout Europe.
The idea of BatLife Europe was first proposed by the IUCN Chiroptera Specialist Group at the European Bat Research Symposium in Le Havre in 2002.

Then, at the 11th meeting of the EUROBATS Advisory Committee in Luxembourg in 2006, it was agreed that the work of the many European NGOs committed to bat conservation would be enhanced by trans-boundary communication and coordination.
The UK’s Bat Conservation Trust was invited to establish BatLife Europe and accepted.

BatLife Europe has a membership of partner conservation organisations, each representing and working in partnership with BatLife Europe in its own territory.

GONHS has been active in bat conservation in Gibraltar for many years, advocating the protection of bats and their roosts, raising public awareness about bats and identifying Gibraltar’s bat species and populations. For the past six years it had participated in European (later International) Bat Night hosted by Eurobats.

                    Schreiber's Bat, a common species in Gibraltar.                                         Photo: Albert Yome/GONHS

Last year it joined forces with the Gibraltar Museum Caving Unit and several UK-based bat experts and the Department of the Environment to form the Gib-Bats Project. Albert Yome, who leads GONHS’ participation in the project said, “We are delighted to have been accepted as a Partner of BatLife Europe. This will help us collaborate with other European bat conservation organisations and help us both understand our bat populations in a wider context and help us to promote their conservation and study in Gibraltar itself.

GONHS is very grateful to its friends in the GCMU, led by Stewart Finlayson, our UK colleagues James Shipman, Denise Foster and Iain Hysom and the assistance provided by Stephen Warr of the Department of the Environment.”

Speaking on behalf of BatLife Europe, its Chair, Julia Hanmer added, “We are delighted to welcome the Gibraltar Ornithological & Natural History Society as the 34th partner member of BatLife Europe. Having such a broad partnership of NGOs representing bats from Ireland to Ukraine, and Finland to Gibraltar means we can speak up strongly for the needs of bats and influence the many people, from politicians and land managers, to planners and the public, to encourage them to take action to make a difference for bat conservation”.


14 March

Feetham Mistaken

In an interview with GBC on Thursday 13th March regarding the proposed football stadium at Europa Point, Opposition Leader Danny Feetham claimed that GONHS had condemned and criticised the building of a park at Europa Point from an environmental point of view, back when the GSD was in government.

This is incorrect and GONHS would like to clarify its position.

GONHS did not criticise or condemn the creation of a children's play park, which was built on an area that was not vegetated.

GONHS criticised (1) the destruction around Harding's Battery of native flora that is well adapted to the extreme conditions at Europa Point, and (2) the use of plants in the new landscaping at Europa Point that were ill-suited to strong winds and salt spray.

At no time did GONHS criticise the building of the park itself, which has provided an attractive amenity for the community.

GONHS has already stated that it appears from the design that no natural habitat will be impacted by the construction of the proposed stadium. If there is an impact, then GONHS will oppose this and press for solutions that do not affect natural habitats. Furthermore, GONHS expects that any landscaping in the area will be sensible, use only plants that can survive Europa Point's conditions and enhance the area's value for flora and fauna.

Notice to Editors: the two GONHS press releases on this matter were issued in October 2011 and can be found at


GONHS Council


06 March

Europa Point Football Stadium

GONHS notes that some interest has been expressed in its views regarding the proposed football stadium at Europa Point, including via Twitter by Opposition member Isobel Ellul-Hammond.
In her tweet, Ms Ellul-Hammond refers to press releases issued by GONHS on the 15/09/2011 and 24/10/2014, regarding Europa Point. Those press releases refer to the destruction of native vegetation around Harding’s battery and its replacement with expensive plants that would not survive Europa Point’s extreme conditions. Indeed, most have not.

GONHS has examined the plans for the proposed stadium as part of the consultation process and, so far, it appears that none of the natural habitats at Europa Point will be affected by the Stadium. GONHS has also considered other factors, such as the effect on migrating birds, and has decided that adverse effects are unlikely. That said, GONHS expects that an EIA process will still examine any possible impacts on the natural environment.

Views on the proposed stadium are varied within GONHS’ Council, but the Council has decided that these are matters of personal taste and that an organisation that aims to study and conserve Gibraltar’s wildlife should not comment on matters that, up until the present, appear to have no negative impact on Gibraltar’s ecology. GONHS will of course reverse its position if, at a future stage, it becomes apparent that aspects of Gibraltar’s wildlife will be threatened.

Furthermore, GONHS expects the Government of Gibraltar to ensure that any landscaping works carried out at Europa Point make use exclusively of native species that can withstand the difficult weather conditions at the site and enhance its value for wildlife.

GONHS Council


2013 Press Releases

21.11.2013 Spanish fishing boat fined

01.10.2013  EuroBirdwatch 2013

23.09.2013 GONHS Concerned at NPA amendment

10.08.2013 Calpe 2013 Conference: Caves as Archives

06.06.2013 GONHS welcomes the fishing report

29.04.2013 GONHS Supports Dr Tydeman's comments



2013 Press Releases


21 November 2013


Spanish fishing boat



The Gibraltar Ornithological & Natural History Society (GONHS) has welcomed the £600 fine imposed recently imposed on the captain of the Spanish fishing boat, Divina Providencia for the offence of fishing with rakes contrary to the current provisions of the Nature Protection Act 1991 (NPA).

It calls on HM Government of Gibraltar not to give in to Spanish incursions by weakening our robust wildlife protection laws and further urges the Commissioner of Police to enforce the provisions of the NPA in BGTW and on land.

GONHS also reiterates its previous request in April this year, that the Royal Navy assist those charged with upholding the law, by providing the necessary security for them to undertake their duties.




01 October 2013

European Birdwatch 2013

Saturday 5th October



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The Gibraltar Ornithological & Natural History Society (GONHS)

Field Centre, Jews' Gate

Upper Rock Nature Reserve

PO Box 843, Gibraltar


5th October 2013




EuroBirdwatch13 - 20 Years for the

Migratory Birds and Their Flyways


Millions of migrating birds will leave Europe in these weeks flying to their wintering places in Africa. Birds overcome thousands of miles and many dangers along their flyways. For the 20th time already, BirdLife International invites people in Europe to take the opportunity on 5/6 October 2013 to discover the fascinating world of bird migration.


The biggest event of the BirdLife partners in Europe celebrates its 20-year anniversary. Since 1993, EuroBirdwatch has attracted tens of thousands of participants each year, sharing in diverse activities or just simply observing the birds as they migrate southwards. This year, the national partners of BirdLife International of 33 countries in Europe and Central Asia invite people to observe the birds and hear interesting facts about bird migration and threats they face during their journeys. In most countries people will find observation and information posts where everyone can share the knowledge on migratory birds and their flyways.

The majority of the migrating birds are in danger because of land use changes and climatic changes in their breeding and wintering areas and on the crucial stopovers. Therefore BirdLife Partnership is pleased by the number of people fascinated by bird migration, which is rising every year. Only joint action of many people and nations can halt the adverse trend.

For the migrating bird species the existence of suitable breeding areas in the north, saving stopovers on the flyway and appropriate habitats in the wintering regions are vitally important. The aim of EuroBirdwatch13 is to raise awareness for the beauty of bird migration and the needs of the birds taking part in it.

The European Birdwatch is an annual event comprising hundreds of nationally organised activities. On these observation posts the number of birds and participating people are counted and reported via the national centres to the European centre. Last year around 70’000 people took part in 34 countries and more then six million birds were observed on this single weekend.

   In 2013 the Slovak Ornithological Society/BirdLife Slovakia is acting as the European Centre to process these data. Since 1993, the event has been coordinated by Fritz Hirt (SVS/BirdLife Switzerland) who was one of the initiators of EuroBirdwatch. Among other merits, this was one of the reasons BirdLife International awarded him the Honorary Membership in 2013. The deed of membership was handed to Fritz Hirt by Princess Takamado in the course of BirdLife International’s world congress in Ottawa.

In Gibraltar, as the local BirdlIfe International Partner, the Gibraltar Ornithological and Natural History Society (GONHS) will be organising several events, which are open to the public.

The first of these will be a bird ringing demonstration at the Alameda Botanic Gardens, where migratory and other birds will be caught using mist nets and then ringed by licensed bird ringers, with specific measurements being taken, before being released back into the wild.

Later, the Raptor Unit will host a bird of prey display and the unit members will be on hand to provide further information on how each bird is cared for by the unit, which in addition to rehabilitation also breeds rare birds of prey such as the Lesser Kestrel for subsequent release into the wild.

In the afternoon, observers will be at the Europa Point Marine Observatory looking for birds (and cetaceans) in the Strait of Gibraltar.

Key times and locations (all Saturday 5th October 2013)

8am-11am Bird Ringing – on top of the Nature Shop; up Heathfield Steps and left at the entrance to the Alameda Botanic Gardens.

10.30am-12.30pm Bird of Prey Display – between the top of Heathfield Steps and The Cottage.

Please remember that dogs are not allowed within the gardens.

3pm – 6pm - Europa Point Marine Observatory. Below and to the left of the Harding's Battery mound.


For further information on European Birdwatch please visit:


BirdLife International is a global alliance of conservation organizations working in more than 120 countries, which, together, form the leading authority on the status of birds, their habitats and the issues and problems affecting bird life.





GONHS Concerned at NPA Amendment

GONHS is concerned at reports that the Government of Gibraltar may be taking steps to allow fishing with nets and the raking of sea-beds within BGTW. While the amendment to the Nature Protection Act (NPA) currently proposed does not in itself allow such activity, its introduction suggests that this may be a possibility in the future.

The Society is concerned that any such action could lead to unregulated fishing continuing, given the practical difficulties of enforcement. Licensed fishing and quotas would be as difficult to enforce as the current legislation and they would accrue the additional burdens of having to run a licensing system, check boats and perhaps land catches regularly to ensure that licensees are keeping to their quotas. This appears onerous and unnecessary when Gibraltar itself does not have any commercial fishing activity.

GONHS is especially concerned that some of these fishing practices are extremely destructive to marine habitats, especially unregulated raking, and that a relaxation of fishing laws would lead to further deterioration of Gibraltar?s marine habitats. All of this would, if allowed, take place whilst ?no fishing? zones are enforced in protected areas in nearby Spain, including the Bay and Strait of Gibraltar themselves.

It urges the Government to resist allowing any commercial fishing. A temptation to do so should be considered within the context of the difficulties of policing an effective licensing regime and exclusion zones, without which we will continue to experience deterioration of marine habitats and resources. It is vital that Gibraltar's marine resources are managed carefully in order to ensure proper protection, enhancement and sustainable use of Gibraltar's biodiversity and that of the wider region.

GONHS also urges the Government to continue creating new habitats and enhancing existing ones, including increasing the extent of artificial reefs. The planned marine regulations controlling diving and fishing should be introduced without delay.




Calpe 2013 Conference

Caves as Archives

The world around us is in constant flux, but each human lifetime offers an insignificant snapshot within an enormous timescale.  Even the accumulated experience represented by recorded history is but a small drop in the vast ocean of deep time.  But how do we access the datasets required for detailed scientific enquiry at such an enormous temporal scale?

This year’s Calpe Conference, jointly organised by the Gibraltar Ornithological and Natural History Society (GONHS) and the Gibraltar Museum aims to answer this question. It will do so by exploring the full extent of information that can be gathered when caves are treated as archives of a changing planet.  Gibraltar is at the forefront of some of these areas of research: the Gibraltar Museum and the GONHS Cave Science Unit are, together with their international collaborators, important players in the fields of archaeology, geomorphology and climate science.  The local teams and international participants will be delivering what promises to be a far-ranging, insightful and exciting Calpe Conference.

The conference structure has been slightly modified on this occasion by having an introductory day in which speakers will address aspects of Gibraltar’s geology and caves in a manner that will be accessible to as wide a public as possible. The day will be a synthesis of all the work that has been carried out over several decades but it will also look towards the future and research into fields that we are only just embarking on now. Saturday 14th September has been picked for this day so as to allow as many people, who might be otherwise at work, to attend. The programme will continue from Sunday 15th to Tuesday 17th September, with an excursion on Wednesday 18th.

Further information and registration forms may be obtained from the Gibraltar Museum (Tel: 200 74289) or its website The conference, as in previous years, is free for local residents.


Editors: Contacts for further information

Dr Keith Bensusan,

Professor Clive Finlayson at the Gibraltar Museum or at




GONHS welcomes the Fishing Report



GONHS Council is pleased that the long-awaited fishing report has finally been published. 

The report concludes and vindicates what GONHS has always maintained: that Gibraltar’s environmental protection laws are sound.  It also states that there are insufficient data on fishing stocks and the state of the marine habitats, and in these cases the well-established precautionary principle must prevail.

GONHS is confident that once the Gibraltar Government has considered these recommendations, and includes these as an active component of the marine management plan, together with the forthcoming legislative measures, that these will form the basis of future protection and conservation that will enhance the marine environment.  

We welcome Government’s plans to regulate marine recreational activities in an environmentally friendly and sustainable manner.  We look forward to an increase in resources for environmental protection and enforcement, and eagerly await monitoring strategies that will provide baseline data of the current state of our marine resources, that will enable Gibraltar to meet its environmental obligations.

GONHS would like to thank the authors and the working group that worked tirelessly in the production of this report.

GONHS Council



GONHS Supports Dr Tydeman's comments

GONHS has followed with interest the comments submitted by Dr Chris Tydeman to the Environmental Audit Committee of the House of Commons on the 17th April, as well as reactions to those comments locally.

Dr Tydeman has a very extensive and impressive curriculum vitae and has ample experience regarding the relationship between the UK and its Overseas Territories in his role as Chairman of the UK Overseas Territories Conservation Forum (UKOTCF). Furthermore, he was Chief Scientist with the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and established its international marine programme. He also has extensive experience working with the EU and his conservation work has often included considerable overlap with politics, as is to be expected. He is therefore in a very good position to assess political situations regarding wildlife conservation and comment on these.

Apart from more general statements relating to the Overseas Territories generally, Dr Tydeman commented at length on a resistance to use the Royal Navy for fisheries protection in British Gibraltar Waters. The opinion expressed by Dr Tydeman, namely that the British Government values good relations with Spain far more than it does the interests of Gibraltar, is widely-held among the Gibraltarian public, so it should not come across as controversial locally. The Royal Navy’s inaction in adequately protecting local fisheries is difficult to explain in any other context, given that the Navy actually includes a ‘Fishery Protection Squadron’ that operates in UK waters and British waters around the Falklands. The Royal Navy itself states that the primary task of the squadron “is its involvement in the highly emotive and politically sensitive UK and European fishing industry” (for more, see: The Royal Navy’s failure to protect fisheries around Gibraltar does therefore raise very legitimate questions.

The comments on the role of the Governor, which have attracted much interest in Gibraltar, were not in fact submitted to the Environmental Audit Committee by Dr Tydeman. These were included in a report that published the proceedings of a workshop held by the UKOTCF in October 2012 on the subject of the UK Government’s ‘White Paper’ on its Overseas Territories. The report clearly refers to the office and role of the Governor in relation to the British Government and not Sir Adrian Johns as an individual (the report can be downloaded from: GONHS does not doubt Sir Adrian’s commitment to Gibraltar, although it regrets that the Convent simply stated that Dr Tydeman’s comments do not reflect the Governor’s “public position”, rather than providing a more robust and unequivocal statement.

GONHS is extremely concerned with Dr Tydeman’s statement to the Committee that he has received “less-than-thinly-veiled hints” from British officials that his report should allow Spanish fishing in British Gibraltar Territorial Waters. If this is truly an issue of fishing, such an opinion should be based on scientific data regarding the state of our fisheries and not on wider political considerations, especially when these are taken by Britain in favour of Spain’s interests and against those of Gibraltar.

In any case, the Nature Protection Act 1991 is the law currently in force in Gibraltar and GONHS calls on the Royal Navy to assist those charged with upholding the law to do so.