Oceana demands that the pouring of polluted muds in Maó be stopped, as it coincides with the razorfish spawning season

The Spanish Institute of Oceanography has demanded that the pouring of the dredged material not take place in this period, between April and August.

Press Release Date: March 14, 2013

Location: Madrid


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Oceana demands that the pouring of the polluted muds to be dredged from Maó harbour be halted, as it will coincide with the razorfish spawning season, between April and August. This is also the non-fishing season, a management measure established to protect this species so highly valued by the local population, as it has a high economic value.

The Spanish Institute of Oceanography has asked in its latest letter that the puring not coincide with the razorfish spawning season, so, if the Port Authority follows these indications, the works should be halted between April and August.

It has been established that there is a significant area for razorfish fishing known by local fishermen as “Es Sòtil” in the Cala Rafelet area, little more than one mile away from the central point of the area scheduled for the pouring of the dredge dumping. Both recreational and professional fishermen fish in this spot, and it is a habitat with fine, well-calibrated sands.

Seabeds of this type were documented in the expedition carried out by Oceana in early January in the area scheduled for the dumping, so it is to be expected that this species also lives in this area

“In addition to razorfish, in the area scheduled for the dumping of the polluted dredged materials we have documents other species and ecosystems of commercial and environmental interest, some of which are even protected”, says Ricardo Aguilar, Director of Research of Oceana in Europe. We cannot allow 200.000 m3 of polluted muds to be dumped in a healthy area”.

Given that Minorca is a Biosphere Reserve, Oceana has filed a claim with Unesco regarding the dredging of Maó harbour, not only due to the effect that it will have on fishing activity and marine ecosystems, but also due to the risk that it will have for human health as a result of the high levels of heavy metals in the material to be dredged (mainly mercury) and the effect which the dump may have on the quality of the bathing waters in the surrounding area (Cala Sant Esteva, Cala Rafalet, s’Algar, and Cala Alcaufar).

“Oceana is not against the dredging of Maó harbour”, says Xavier Pastor, Executive Director of Oceana in Europe. “We demand that these polluted muds be managed inland, not dumped into the sea, due to the danger that they will pose to health and their impact on marine ecosystems”.

The European Environmental Agency has published a report showing the importance of applying a precautionary approach using real cases as examples. The cases described include the “Minamata case”, in which different generations have experienced the effects of mercury pollution through consumption of polluted fish.

Study of the communities in the area scheduled for the dumping of polluted muds from the dredging of Maó harbour

Oceana has photographs and video images of the affected seabeds

Further information: Mercury pollution