Enric Sala, explorer-in-residence at National Geographic, has publicly expressed his support for the enlargement of the Cabrera National Park, based on the boundaries proposed by Oceana to José Ramón Bauzá. In a letter to the President of the Balearic Islands, Sala stated that the project would lead to “immediate environmental, fishing production, and economic improvements for the tourism sector”.
Sala last visited Cabrera in June 2010, on board the Cousteau Foundation’s Alcyone, accompanied by Prince Albert II of Monaco. The result of this expedition was The Secrets of the Mediterranean, a documentary which has since been screened in more than 100 countries. Sala supports the enlargement because “it has been scientifically proven that the potential of a marine reservation is a function of its extension, and the current national park is surrounded by habitats of extraordinary importance which deserve being protected”. Oceana’s proposal involves multiplying the park’s surface area by 10, from 8,354 hectares to 78,716.
The researcher highlights the economic benefits generated by marine reserves in a paper recently published in the prestigious scientific journal Plos One. In this paper, he provides the example of the Columbretes reserve, where lobsters migrating outside its boundaries have increased catches by 10% every year. Another case is the Illes Medes integral reserve, which, despite spanning only 94 hectares, provides 200 direct jobs and an annual income of 10 million euros, 20 times more than the cost of managing the reservation.
In addition to supporting the enlargement, Sala urged Bauzá to revert the park budget back to its 2011 amount: “from National Geographic, we encourage you to return to the Cabrera National Park, as soon as possible, the budget to recover the management, surveillance, and research capacity required for its classification as a National Park, the highest protection under Spanish law”.
Sala points out that “it is a well-known fact in the international scientific community that the situation in Cabrera is gradually worsening. Drastic cutbacks in the park management budget, the reduction of its surveillance and research staff, and the lack of means to control illegal fishing have led to the very quick loss of the advances achieved after decades of efforts”.
Further information: Cabrera