Cabrera: one of the most vital natural marine environments of the Mediterranean sea

Just a few days ago, the Spanish government has approved the extension of the protected area of Cabrera’s National Park, located off the southern coast of Mallorca.

The existing 10,021 hectares has been expanded to a total area of 90,800 hectares of protected land (the main isle of Cabrera and 18 smaller islets – all uninhabited) and sea, turning the archipelago into one of the most important marine natural parks of the Mediterranean sea and the largest protected marine area of the western Mediterranean. In terms of total surface, it has become the most extensive National Park in Spain, including all the land-based ones.

One of the unique features of the park is that it is the first in Spain that includes open sea – and a depth of up to 2,000 meters, which makes it home the best coral reservations in the country.

The extension of this national park had been long clamoured for by environmental groups and the Balearic government, only with the opposition of the fishing industry, because of the fishing restrictions that this entails.

Back in November 2018, the ecological organisation Oceana warned that a longer delay could endanger ecosystems that had been very well preserved so far and finally, with the recent changes in the Spanish government, the objection from the fishing industry has been overcome and the long-awaited decision arrived.

Unfortunately, not everyone is pleased with the extension of Cabrera’s protected area. Various local yacht clubs and other entities related to responsible leisure fishing seem to be unhappy with the criteria used to decide on the natural park’s extension. They accuse the autonomous government of not taking their interests into consideration, making a decision based on ideological criteria, and not scientific or ecological ones – and “going against the cultural identity of the Balearic Islands and their relationship with the sea”.

On the government’s side however, the message is all about an “ground-breaking agreement” that allows large areas – usually subject to intensive fishing exploitation – to be now protected, which is very positive for the ecosystem’s biodiversity. They also proudly state that the Cabrera National Park will be a benchmark for marine research in the Mediterranean.

After approving the extension, the goal now is to improve the management of the national park. To achieve this, 12 new employees have been taken on, as well as a request to update the Plan for Use and Management of the national park to its new reality.

Furthermore, if the general government budget is approved, €5,000,000 will be invested in Cabrera’s National Park during 2019, compared to €250,000 in 2018. Even if this budget figure is not approved, there is still an agreement in place, valued at €350,000 euros, where the Civil Guard would facilitate means of marine surveillance in the protected area.

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