Anchors have destroyed over 20% of posidonia in spanish Natural Park in only four years

Oceana has accessed a scientific report that proves the degradation of this EU-protected habitat due to illegal mooring.

Press Release Date: April 18, 2013

Location: Madrid


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A scientific report accessed by Oceana, has found a 20 % average decrease in posidonia meadows between 2008 and 2012 to the north of Formentera. This decrease has been caused by dozens of vessels that moor illegally above posidonia, destroying the plants with their anchors. Posidonia is a habitat protected by the European Union, and the posidonia meadow in the Ses Salines Natural Park, where the study was carried out, was declared a World Heritage site in 1999.

The report was drafted by seven marine biologists from the OceanSnell environmental consultancy, who examined the condition of the Posidonia oceanica meadows between Punta Pedrera and S’Espalmador, in the area included in the Ses Salines Natural Park and the Ses Salines d’Eivissa i Formentera Site of Community Importance (SCI), which is part of the EU Natura 2000 Network. The study compares the condition of the meadow in November 2012 with 2008 data, when the LIFE project activities funded by the EU and the Balearics regional government were carried out, using the same methods now used.

In the past four years, the meadow has decreased by 16% in the most resistant area and by 44% in the most damaged area. The authors of the study clearly state that “the strong presence of dead posidonia bushes and the drop in coverage in all these areas is a direct consequence of moorings on the meadows”. This statement “is based on the presence of a large number of anchor marks, torn tufts, scattered distribution, and the location of dead bush areas, as well as on the presence of vessels that moor in this area in the summer”.

The research tools located 209 anchor marks, some of them up to 344 metres long, and it is estimated that the direct impact of these marks amounts to approximately 11,000 m2.

“In 2012, the European Commission dismissed the complaint filed by Oceana regarding the destruction of the Ses Salines posidonia meadow as we lacked a systematic, global scientific study of the area, and only had images of specific locations where the damage was obvious”, said Xavier Pastor , Executive Director of Oceana in Europe. “The report which we are bringing today provides the evidence required by the Commission and proves that the regional government’s management in this protected yet damaged area can frankly be improved”.

Pastor declared that it was not his organisation’s goal to clash with the regional government’s as he would like to collaborate to solve the problems through positive proposals. He thus asks Councillor Gabriel Company to quickly launch a process for the installation of environmental buoys, which are the only means to allow the presence of a controlled number of vessels of all sizes without damaging the meadows.

Further information about posidonia

Report: Evaluación del impacto del fondeo de embarcaciones sobre las praderas de Posidonia oceanica en el norte de Formentera (Baleares) (Spanish)