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April 29, 2013

Happy birthday, Cabrera!

© OCEANA / Iñaki Relanzón


Spain’s National Park of Cabrera turns 22 years old today and we’re very happy to say that its creation has been worthwhile. There is enough evidence to show that sea creatures within the protected area grow larger and spawn more, and this wildlife ‘factory’ is a great help when it comes to restoring the surrounding damaged areas.

But despite the park being well over the legal age, its budget has been reduced to pocket money.  As a result, most of staff and watchers have been fired and poachers may ruin everything that has been achieved over the years. And it’s not the crisis that is bringing about these cuts, but that the money already assigned by the Spanish government is being diverted to other purposes.

So we would like to ask decision-makers for a little birthday gift (well okay, two gifts). First, give back to Cabrera what it has the right to receive. And second, accept Oceana’s “10 for the price of one” proposal  – it is possible to enlarge the national park ten-fold while keeping the same surveillance budget, thus preserving threatened seabeds and species that badly need it.  

This is not just an idea from a bunch of environmental organizations. Artisanal fishermen, hotel owners, diving centres, nautical clubs and recreational harbours are all in agreement, and so are researchers from a number of institutions, such as the Spanish Institute of Oceanography and the High Council for Scientific Research. The latest to get on board is Enric Sala, from National Geographic, and there are more to come! With the exception of five big boats that trawl over protected seabeds, and some reluctant politicians, I’d call that a widespread consensus.

P.S. Today the decision of whether the Cabrera visitors centre will be shut down or kept open will be taken. Cross your fingers!