Oceana proposes protecting 30% of the balearic sea to guarantee the future of its ecosystems

Currently only 2.2% of the waters of the Balearic Sea are protected areas with a management system and they are unrepresentative as they are all coastal areas.

Press Release Date: November 22, 2011

Location: Madrid


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It is necessary to improve the current management and declare new marine protected areas to establish a representative, consistent and efficiently managed network which includes deep sea waters.

Ocean proposes protecting 30% of the waters of the Balearic Promontory with a network of marine protected areas (MPA) which are representative of all of the most important and characteristic habitats and species of the area. The proposal represents an effective measure to prevent overfishing and ensure the conservation of the marine species and habitats found in these waters which are of great ecological and economic importance.

Currently, only 118,540 hectares of the waters of the Balearic Islands are under any form of national or autonomous community protection: seven Marin Reserves, the Cabrera National Terrestrial Marine Park and the various Sites of Community Importance (SCI).  However, despite enjoying legal protection, less than half of these protected areas have an effective management plan. Therefore, only 56,448 ha of the waters of the archipelago have an actual management system, representing 2.2% of the total area.

“There is an international commitment which was established by the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity to protect at least 10% of the planet’s marine ecoregions in the year 2020 through effectively managed networks of MPA’s”, explains Xavier Pastor, Executive Director of Oceana in Europe, and for that reason, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), an international body to which, among others, the Spanish Government and the Balearic Government belong and provide funding, recommends a minimum of 20-30% to obtain truly beneficial results. The exceptional oceanographic, biological and geomorphological characteristics of the area would enable the Balearic Islands to become a pioneering community by meeting this commitment to biodiversity by establishing a representative network of MPA’s which would cover an approximate area of 30% of its waters”.

Oceana’s proposal for the waters of the Balearic Promontory firstly consists of an improvement to the management of the existing MPA’s as certain shortcomings have been detected. For this to be possible it will be necessary to apply effective control measures to ensure that there is compliance with the regulations and to eliminate high impact activities such as trawling and spearfishing in the protected areas.

There is also a proposal to create more areas which are closed to fishing which act as exporters of fishery resources to the adjacent areas. Currently, these “integral reserve” areas represent only 0.2% of the waters of the Balearic Promontory and in many cases they are located in zones which do not have the suitable characteristics to optimise their function.

Secondly, Oceana is making a specific proposal to create new MPA’s, mainly located in deep sea waters, in order to establish a network which is representative of the diversity of the Balearic Islands’ marine habitats. These proposals include the seamounts in the Mallorca Channel, the deep waters surrounding the Cabrera National Park, the submarine canyon south of Menorca and the sanctuary for bluefin tuna in the south of the Balearic archipelago.  Many of these areas have received the unanimous support of the Balearic Parliament and Government, and professional bodies such as the Mallorca Hotel Business Federation.

Other proposed areas include habitats of outstanding ecological wealth such as rhodolith beds, coralligenous biocenosis, crinoid (Leptometra phalangium) and sea pen (Funiculina quadrangularis) beds, fields of brachiopods (Gryphus vitreus) and bamboo coral (Isidella elongata), deep sea corals and sea beds below 1000m.

The “Oceana Proposal for responsible fishing in the Balearic Islands” consists of a global fishery management project for the Balearic Islands. This analysis comprises five chapters which address the different problems presented by the various types of fishing carried out in the island and there are management proposals to improve the conservation of the Promontory’s fishery resources and marine habitats. The documents which have already been distributed can be viewed at www.oceana.org.

Further information (in Spanish):  Marine protected areas. A tool to combat overfishing and preserve marine ecosystems