Five trawlers working on banned seabeds are the only opposition in the fishing sector to the enlargement of the national park.
Oceana has requested, by means of a letter sent to the President of the Balearics Regional Government, José Ramón Bauzá, that the initiatives to approach the project for the enlargement of the Cabrera National Park be launched. These work conversations were put forward by Bauzá himself at the end of the interview held more than one month ago with Xavier Pastor, executive director of Oceana in Europe, and Alexandra Cousteau, an Oceana advisor. In this meeting, Bauzá agreed to examine the proposal to expand the park tenfold. Since then, the Balearics Regional Government has not communicated with Oceana on the issue.
“Small-scale fishermen, diving centres, hotel owners, environmentalists, marine researchers, and leisure ship owners support the enlargement of the Cabrera National Park, so we ask President Bauzá to boost the project and prevent it from being slowed down by bureaucratic red tape”, says Xavier Pastor.
In a follow up after the March meeting, Xavier Pastor sent Bauzá a document countering the two main objections to park enlargement:
Cost: Oceana points out that Cabrera National Park should go back to its 2011 budget and staff. The enlargement would hardly have any economic impact.
The main issue that requires the enlargement of the protected area is control of illegal fishing, but this can be carried out using the current electronic means. Vessels that are more than 15 m long carry blue boxes that emit signals which allow satellites to detect and identify vessels entering areas not authorised for fishing. This system is already active, and its extension to deeper waters would involve no increase in cost. Other current surveillance services which can be optimised are the Guardia Civil Maritime Service patrols and the radar already installed in Cabrera to control the arrival of illegal rafts.
Opposition from the fishing sector: Oceana points out that only five trawlers are blocking the enlargement of the park. These vessels work on maërl and coralligenous seabeds, mainly in Fort den Moreu and the Migjorn marine reserve. This type of seabed is already protected by Spanish and European regulations, so no new prohibitions would be required, it would thus be a matter of forcing them to comply with the law and work on the slope seabeds, as other Balearic trawlers have done.
“It is frankly surprising that the main opposition to the enlargement of the Cabrera National Park comes from a group of ship owners who can be counted on the fingers of one hand, whose vessels are easily identifiable, and who are in breach of current legislation”, added Pastor. “We would like to know if President Bauzá has informed Minister Miguel Arias Cañete of this situation, as he said he would, and what the Minister’s response has been”.
Further information: Cabrera