The Conselleria de Agricultura, Pesca i Alimentació and the Direcció General de Pesca i Medi Marí, during the presentation of the Toro Malgrats Marine Reserve, at the Club Nàutic de Santa Ponça. Photo: Marilles Foundation.
We are pleased with the unification and extension of the Toro and Malgrats islands marine reserve. The Balearic Islands is yet again leading the state in terms of marine protected areas (MPAs). While the unification is a cause for celebration and a step in the right direction, we need to put some things in context.
El Toro - Malgrats
- The enlargement of the El Toro-Malgrats reserve is incomplete; it does not reach Illa del Sec and Sa Porrassa, as was proposed and defended from the outset.
- Only 7.5% of the new extended reserve is a highly protected area.
MPAs in the Balearics
- More than 20% of the Balearic Islands is designated as MPAs; the national average currently stands at 12%.
- But it only has 0.2% of its highly protected marine area as an integral area.
Commitment 30% and 10% highly protected by 2030
- The Spanish government has pledged to protect at least 30% of the marine area by 2030; and at least 10% highly protected. Minister Ribera, in June 2022, set an intermediate target of 25% by 2025.
- We believe that the Balearic Islands will achieve the 30% target by 2030; it could even exceed it, as it has seabeds of high ecological importance.
- But to achieve 10% of highly protected area in 2030, the Balearic Islands will have to multiply by 50 the 0.2% of highly protected marine area it currently has.
Benefits of MPAs
- The benefits of MPAs in the Balearics are enormous. A study published in 2021 shows that a reserve generates €10 of benefits for every €1 of investment.
- MPAs are essential for the conservation of the Balearic Sea. The future of key industries such as tourism, fishing, and sailing, and the wellbeing of the citizens of these islands is closely linked to a sea in good condition and a network of MPAs.
Underfunding of MPAs in the Balearics
- Public investment in MPAs in the Balearic Islands is tiny compared to the benefits they bring.
- A diagnosis of the MPAs carried out by Marilles Foundation shows that, even though most of the MPAs in the Balearic Islands have produced good results, they are far from reaching their potential.
- Marilles has been calling for years for more funding to improve the functioning of the current MPAs:
- Strengthen surveillance and ensure compliance with regulations.
- Complete the monitoring of marine reserves. At the moment it is limited, and data is not very robust.
- Draw up management programmes with clear objectives and action plans to achieve the multiple ecological, economic, and social benefits they provide.
- Improve coordination between administrations (there are seven forms of legal protection in the Balearic Islands).
Network of marine sanctuaries
The Next Generation funds are an excellent opportunity for the Balearic government and municipalities to move steadily towards the 30x30 and 10x30 objectives. We propose to invest part of these funds in the creation of (a) a network of marine sanctuaries throughout the Balearic Islands covering at least 10% of the inland waters, (b) more highly protected areas, (c) a reservoir of fishing resources for the professional and recreational fleet, and (d) a base for multiple economic and educational activities.
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