Oceana’s latest expedition confirms the need for expanded marine protected areas in the Balearics

The Balearic area is in need of an ambitious conservation strategy which should include the creation of a protected seamount and the expansion of the National Park of Cabrera

Press Release Date: August 14, 2014

Location: Madrid


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Marine Protected Areas will forever help to defend the islands from the threat of oil-drilling

Oceana has acquired new underwater images that support the need for the expansion of protected areas in the Balearics. The international marine conservation organization has just completed an expedition to the seamounts of the Mallorca Channel and the Fort d’en Moreu, near the National Park of Cabrera. Here they have filmed vulnerable species, as well as abandoned nets and drag marks from trawling on the seabed.

This expedition has documented the destructive effects of bottom trawling, which literally destroys fragile habitats such as coralligeneous reefs and maërl. On Monday, we were delighted to hear that destructive fishing will be banned in the seamounts Emile Baudot and Ausias March of the Fort d’en Moreu, which we have been studying.” states Xavier Pastor, Executive Director of Oceana Europe, and expedition leader. “The next step should be to implement active measures of protection by creating a large protected area around the seamounts of the Mallorca Channel, and by expanding the National Park of Cabrera to include the Fort d’en Moreu marine area.”

Oceana believes that the upcoming months will be critical towards the enforcement of the ban on trawling in these protected areas, hopefully serving as an example for other areas affected by similar problems, such as the Menorca Channel.

Additionally, this development should form the basis of an ambitious conservation goal in the Balearic archipelago, going beyond prohibitions and towards the creation and expansion of marine protected areas. This way, further damage will be avoided and the recovery of damaged environments can begin.

Oceana has been strongly against oil-drilling projects in the Balearics, yet this threat should certainly not overshadow the efforts of many years working towards responsible fisheries and biodiversity conservation. Marine protected areas allow active conservation of habitats and species and help to defend the islands from oil drilling projects” says Pastor.

Oceana’s ten-day expedition to the Balearic seamounts documented some of the least studied and most interesting sites in the archipelago. Species in certain areas are showing a decline, for example, bamboo coral and and deep-sea sharks.

More information: Balearic Seamount Expedition 2014

Check videos and photo album of the Expedition