Oceana asks the Balearic Government for more protection for marine biodiversity in Cabrera National Park

Press Release Date: May 9, 2024

Location: Madrid


Irene Campmany | email: icampmany@oceana.org | tel.: +34 682 622 245

The extension of the park, effective from 2019, lacks appropriate protection and management measures to protect the area from industrial fishing

The Government, responsible for the park, now has an opportunity to commit to real and ambitious protection after years of delay

Oceana urges the Balearic Government to effectively protect the Cabrera Archipelago National Marine-Terrestrial Park (Balearic Islands). The area is the largest marine national park in the western Mediterranean after a nine-fold increase in area in 2019. These new areas, which represent the largest part, 800 km2, lack protection and management measures to protect them from industrial fishing. The Balearic government, after years of delays, has opened the process to update the management of the park after its expansion, which should come into force within a maximum of two years.

Oceana’s marine scientist in Europe, Silvia García, explains that “Cabrera National Park has been without adequate protection for years and it is urgent to implement management measures that benefit its sensitive and unique habitats. It is of little use to designate marine areas for their great value if they are not properly managed and are affected by industrial fishing, such as longline fishing. We call on the Government to prioritise this issue and look after the marine ecosystems whose conservation is essential to ensure the economic sustainability of fishing in the Balearic Islands”.

Although trawling is banned in the park, other potentially harmful fisheries such as longlining are in limbo and continue to take place in the extended area until an updated management plan is in place. However, the original law designating the park (prior to the extension) explicitly excludes this activity.

Longlining is a fishing method that, with its long lines full of hooks in the water column, can cause bycatch of key species in the park, such as birds, sea turtles or devil rays. Oceana strongly supports the elimination of industrial fishing methods in the marine protected area in favour of artisanal fishing, which is more respectful of marine ecosystems.

The organisation, in a 2021 report, proposes management guidelines based on the zoning of the area. Among other measures, Oceana calls for the designation of a reserve zone with strict protection in the east of the archipelago, which would act as the biodiversity core of the park and would cover the Fort d’en Moreu coral reef and part of the Émile Baudot escarpment. This enclave would contribute to Spain’s goal of strictly protecting 10% of its waters by 2030. This would allow the reef to recover and continue to grow, and the rhodolith beds to regenerate into more productive areas. The marine conservation organisation also proposes restricted use zones, to give better protection to the most sensitive areas, buffering the impacts of surrounding activities. In addition, Oceana considers the deployment of new technologies for monitoring catches and populations of commercial species as a means of verifying the degree of protection to be key.

The Cabrera Archipelago National Maritime-Terrestrial Park is one of the largest protected areas in Europe and the Mediterranean. It was declared in 1991 and increased its surface area in 2019 to 900 km2.

Map. Zoning proposal submitted by Oceana for the extended area of Cabrera National Park.

Notes to editor:

  • Oceana has been working on the extension of Cabrera National Park since 2006, when it conducted the first of six expeditions in the area to study its depths. In 2013, it joined the National Park’s board of trustees. Two years later, the Balearic Government promoted the extension project and in 2017 Oceana achieved an unprecedented parliamentary consensus: almost all the groups in Congress and all those in the Senate supported the extension of the park, which finally became effective in 2019.