After a decade of campaigning and 6 research expeditions, Oceana welcomes move to expand sea area to protect marine life at risk of extinction
Spain is set to announce today it will create the second-largest marine national park in the Mediterranean[i], making the area of Cabrera National Park nine times larger and taking 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. Oceana congratulates the Spanish government on today’s announcement, which follows a decade of advocacy and six expeditions by the international marine conservation organisation to expand Cabrera.
“Today will be 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,” added Aguilar.
Situated in the south of Mallorca, 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%.
“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, and the Critically Endangered Balearic shearwater,” explained Carreras.
Over a decade in the making
Oceana has been working to expand the park since 2007, when the marine conservation organisation made its first of six expeditions to study the area’s deep-sea waters and marine life. In 2013, Oceana joined Cabrera’s board of trustees, and in 2017, achieved an unprecedented parliamentary consensus in Spain: almost all the political parties in Congress and all of those in the Senate supported the expansion of the park.
The decade-long environmental campaign has been made possible thanks to the financial support of the European Commission, Adessium Foundation, Robertson Foundation, Third Millenium Foundation, Govern Balear, Fundación Biodiversidad and Spain’s Ministry of Environment.
Oceana continues to campaign to increase the marine area of other Spanish National Parks, including the declaration of the first exclusively marine National Park in El Hierro (Canary Islands) and the expansion of the marine area of Doñana (Andalusia).
[i] The largest national park in the Mediterranean is that of Alonissos-Sporades (Greece), with an area of 160,000 hectares.