Spanish government to give final go-ahead to enlarge Cabrera National Park

By: Clare Fischer
Date posted: 1 February 2019

Spain is set to create the second-largest marine national park in the Mediterranean. The move will make the Cabrera National Park nine times larger and take the total area protected to 90,794 hectares. The park, located south of Mallorca, will offer the highest level of legal protection for threatened marine life, including corals, dolphins and whales.

Nudibranch Flabellina affinis - Cabera
© EUO © OCEANA Juan Cuetos

MCS can endorse the islands, their biodiversity and the excellent protection of nearshore habitats like vital seagrass beds from anchoring and trawling with significant local government support

Dr Jean-Luc Solandt,
MCS, Principle Specialist, Marine Protected Areas

The Maritime-Terrestrial National Park of the Cabrera Archipelago was created in 1991 and is the only one that Spain has in the Mediterranean Sea. After today’s announcement, the amount of marine area protected within Spain’s National Parks jumps from 4% to 23%.

Dr Jean-Luc Solandt, MCS Principal Specialist, has spent some time in the area: “MCS has been advocating large-scale well-managed MPAs for decades. This new expansion is important in terms of scale, level of protection, and what it protects. It also states - at a ministerial level - the importance of protecting the environment.

“Having visited the Cabrera Islands as part of an EU-wide meeting on developing conservation measures for fisheries in November, MCS can endorse the islands, their biodiversity and the excellent protection of nearshore habitats like vital seagrass beds from anchoring and trawling with significant local government support.

“The UK and other EU member states could well learn from the Spanish Government. In the UK we only protect 2% of our seas from trawling even though we have 23% of our seas in Marine Protected Areas.”

The move is also supported by Oceana, the international organisation dedicated to achieving measurable change by conducting specific, science-based policy campaigns to help protect oceans. Oceana has been campaigning for a decade and has conducted six expeditions in the area.

“Today is a great day for the Mediterranean and for international ocean conservation. Cabrera National Park is home to a huge diversity of ecosystems and marine life, and is a perfect example of the underwater natural heritage that we want to keep for generations to come,” said Ricardo Aguilar, Research and Expeditions Director at Oceana in Europe. “We salute Spain on this huge step forward in protecting its waters and marine life, and we hope other countries will follow Spain by creating more national parks at sea throughout the world.”

“This is this first time that Spain has given the maximum legal protection to deep-sea corals and to areas home to marine mammals such as sperm whales and dolphins, to yellow tree corals, and to large fish like bluefin tuna, among others,” said Marta Carreras, marine scientist at Oceana. “The enlargement will also give top environmental safeguard to other species such as devil rays, red corals and the Critically Endangered Balearic shearwater bird.”

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