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February 1, 2013

Scientists speak out against the Balearic debacle

© OCEANA / Juan Cuetos


What has to happen in a few months in a relatively small area – 5,000 sqkm- for 180 scientists from different organizations to sign a joint document and send it to media? Many things, and none of them good: drastic budget cuts for protected areas, redundancies that dismantle effective teams, destruction of years-long work…  

All this is going on in Spain’s Balearic Islands, and scientists have had enough and are refusing to be silent about it any longer. For a number of months, we have been releasing news about worrying cuts in the marine reserves that in some cases leave their natural heritage virtually unprotected from poachers. The recovery of many unique spots, achieved over the past decades, is now at risk -“Especially worrisome is the situation of Cabrera National Park”, the manifesto reads.

Is it that expensive to adequately protect these places? “Conservation of NPA [Natural Protected Areas], contrary to what our government has repeatedly stated, is not expensive, especially when compared to certain public investments”, researchers say. Furthermore: “The protected areas have commercial value, countable, through the innumerable environmental services they provide: a source of natural materials, extensive grazing support, water reserves, containment of erosion processes, etc.”

Many of the signing scientists work for non-Spanish institutions, so they can’t be blamed for lacking perspective. We at Oceana fully agree with them that the Balearic regional Government stop putting these beautiful areas at risk.  If protecting your most valuable belongings isn’t a priority, what is it then?