Oceana and Alexandra Cousteau demonstrate the existence of seabeds threatened by trawlers in Cabrera

The Balearic Minister for the Environment, Gabriel Company, neither responded to the invitation to see the seabeds for himself nor sent any representative from the Regional Government

Press Release Date: November 4, 2013

Location: Madrid


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Using a submarine robot (ROV), Oceana and Alexandra Cousteau have documented the presence of maerl and coralligenous seabeds, two threatened habitats that are protected by European and Spanish legislation, in an area that is fished by trawlers. The footage filmed at the Fort den Moreu shows that this type of seabed, over which the Mediterranean Regulation explicitly prohibits trawling, is found outside the limits of the Cabrera National Park.

“The videos show without doubt that there are seabeds outside the Cabrera National Park which by law should be protected. This has been known for some time and we do not understand why the trawlers are allowed to fish on them. We are witnessing the conscious destruction of an area of great ecological value when there is a simple solution: extend the boundaries of the park,” said Alexandra Cousteau, Oceana adviser.

Alexandra Cousteau has dived with Oceana’s divers to document the surroundings of the island of Cabrera. The recorded images show that the park’s two decades in existence have enabled the preservation of valuable seabeds and species that in other areas are in decline, such as seagrass meadows, grouper fish and pen shells. This achievement is currently under threat because of the decision of the Government of the Balearic islands to drastically reduce the budget for the park and divert funds to other budget items.

Oceana proposes multiplying by ten the surface area of the Cabrera National Park to include seabeds of a similar ecological value to those that are already protected. But with today’s technology this would not require a tenfold increase in investment in surveillance, but rather a return to the budget that the park had a couple of years ago.

“Political will is what is hurting the Cabrera National Park. Six months after President Bauzá and Regional Minister Company undertook to study the expansion, there has been no progress. The Regional Government behaves like an accomplice of the illegal fishermen. It has used the lack of an official map to wall itself in, and refuses to follow the recommendations of scientific reports from previous legislatures or even to accept the invitation to check the existence of threatened seabeds outside the park in person,” explains Xavier Pastor, Executive Director of Oceana in Europe. 

A few weeks ago, Oceana extended an invitation to Regional Minister of Agriculture, Environment and Territory, Gabriel Company, to accompany Alexandra Cousteau in the documentation of the Cabrera seabed. Company did not respond to the letter, and neither has he appraised the report produced by scientists from the CSIC, the Spanish Institute of Oceanography, and the Regional Government itself, which recommended the expansion of the park.