In the early years of my professional life, until 1985, I had been engaged overseas in scientific activities with an increasing emphasis on conservation issues. While a research associate of Hubbs-Sea World Research Institute (HSWRI) in San Diego, California, in 1978, in what was to be one of the first marine environmental impact assessments of the time, I coordinated the initial phase of a problem analysis study of the potential effects of sonic booms from space shuttles re-entering the atmosphere over the California Channel Islands on the local marine fauna, in particular seals and sea lions.
Shortly afterwards, from September 1978 to October 1979, I was dispatched by HSWRI to Puerto la Cruz, Venezuela, to conduct a year-long investigation of the distribution and abundance of large marine vertebrates (Bryde’s whales, manta rays and whale sharks) found in that area, and suggest mitigations on a local problem of collisions between passenger jet-foils and large marine life.
Since I returned to Italy in 1985 I have focused on the conservation of marine species and their habitats, with a special emphasis on, but not limited to, the cetaceans of the Mediterranean Sea. Affiliations included:
- Tethys Research Institute, Milano;
- Centro Studi Cetacei, Milano;
- UNEP Mediterranean Action Plan (UNEP MAP), Athens, and its Regional Activity Centre for Specially Protected Areas (RAC/SPA), Tunis;
- Agreement on the Conservation of Cetaceans of the Black Sea, Mediterranean Sea and Contiguous Atlantic Area (ACCOBAMS);
- International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), Switzerland;
- Central Institute for Applied Marine Research (“Istituto Centrale per la Ricerca Applicata al Mare”, ICRAM), Roma;
- Abu Salama Society and Hurghada Environmental Protection and Conservation Association (HEPCA), Egypt;
- International Committee on Marine Mammal Protected Areas;
- Pew Fellows Program in Marine Conservation, as a member of its Advisory Committee since 2003;
- Network of Marine Protected Area Managers in the Mediterranean (MedPAN), as a member of its Scientific Committee since 2011.
In addition to activities strictly related to the development of marine conservation and management science, in several occasions I had the opportunity of supporting the administration of justice in Italy in matters related to marine conservation and marine animal ethics. These included:
- nomination in 1987 in an expert committee appointed by the Judge of Otranto (Lecce) during an investigation on the causes of a mass mortality of striped dolphins and other marine vertebrates along the coasts of south-eastern Italy, later connected to major, unlawful pollution events.
- appointment in 2000 as technical consultant to the prosecuting attorney (Procura della Repubblica presso il Tribunale di Verona) in a case of cruelty on dolphins at the “Gardaland Palablu Delphinarium”, Verona (Italy).
- appointment in 2013 as technical consultant to the Court of Tivoli (Rome) in a case of cruelty in connection with the keeping in captivity of a South American sea lion.
- appointment in 2013 as auxiliary of Judiciary Police (ausiliario di Polizia Giudiziaria) in a case of cruelty in connection with the keeping in captivity of a common bottlenose dolphins in a dolphinarium in Rimini.