Oceana: Cabrera Habitats Are Still Unprotected (Spain)

Oceana: Cabrera Habitats are Still Unprotected (Spain)

According to the Mediterranean Regulation, the Barcelona Convention, the Habitats Directive, and the Spanish National Parks Law, the habitats around Cabrera should be already protected.

Oceana believes that the Government is breaching various national and international regulations by failing to enlarge the marine area of Cabrera National Park. Environmental legislation such as the Spanish National Parks Law, the EU Habitats Directive, and the Barcelona Convention list habitats and species that are found in the environs of Cabrera, which therefore must be protected, but are currently unprotected as they lie beyond the Park boundaries. For this reason, Oceana urges the Government to comply with the Law by extending the boundaries of Cabrera.

Oceana’s research has shown that there are significant coralligenous and maerl populations close to Cabrera which are not being protected by Spain, even though it is obliged to do so under the EU Mediterranean Regulation for sustainable management of Mediterranean fishing resources.

This Regulation, adopted in December 2006, prohibits trawling in coralligenous and maerl areas. However, Spain has not yet implemented this prohibition either in Cabrera or in other areas where these habitats are also found, such as the seamounts of the Majorca Channel, the Migjorn marine reserve in Majorca, or around the Columbretes islands. In addition, the law sets a two-year deadline for the establishment of national fishing protected areas to protect both marine resources and ecosystems – a deadline which expired nearly four years ago, in December 2008.

“For years we have insisted on the need to comply with the EU Mediterranean Regulation, given the importance of protecting these habitats, for both fishing and the marine ecosystem”, says marine biologist Xavier Pastor, Executive Director of Oceana in Europe. “There is no real protection, and some coralligenous and maerl habitats in the Balearics and other areas in Spain have already been totally or partially destroyed by trawling nets. We must push to turn this political failure to act into real, effective compliance with their international obligations”.

In Oceana’s view, environmental regulations concerning the protection of areas beyond fishing interests are also being ignored. For example, the Barcelona Convention lists protected species and important habitats found in the area explored by Oceana.

“Habitats such as crinoid fields, gorgonian gardens, and sponge communities are among the United Nations conservation objectives for the Mediterranean, objectives which are ignored by Spain”, says Silvia García, marine scientist with Oceana Europe. “Furthermore, the Habitats Directive and the National Parks Law also apply to the protection of many of the habitats and species that we have documented in these seabeds.”

Subsea World News Staff , July 15, 2012; Image: Oceana