Dr. Sylvia Earle, Founder and Chairman of the Sylvia Earle Alliance (S.E.A.) and Mission Blue, has named the Balearic Islands a Hope Spot—a special place worth safeguarding as a marine protected area for its importance to the health of the Mediterranean Sea.
The announcement came during Dr. Earle and the Mission Blue team’s visit to Mallorca from November 10-12 in collaboration with Asociación Ondine and with the support of Stefan and Irina Hearst. Dr. Earle gave a lecture outlining the main aspects of her Mission Blue Hope Spots initiative at the Hotel St. Regis Mardavall upon announcing the new Hope Spot.
Dr. Sylvia Earle, Founder and Chairman of the Sylvia Earle Alliance (S.E.A.) and Mission Blue, has named the Balearic Islands a Hope Spot—a special place worth safeguarding as a marine protected area for its importance to the health of the Mediterranean Sea on November 11, 2015.
The international conservation organization Oceana has proposed that in order to properly protect the marine habitats and species around the Balearic Islands, new marine protected areas must be established to create a representative MPA network, and within existing MPAs, fishing restrictions must be tightened and new no-take areas must be created. Located in the Mediterranean Sea off Spain’s eastern coast, the Balearic Islands contain ecologically and economically important waters that support Bluefin tuna spawning areas, biologically diverse submarine mountains and canyons, and threatened and endangered species such as sea pens, deep-sea corals, and brachiopods. Many of these benthic species face serious threats from trawling and other destructive fishing practices.
"The Balearic Islands consist of Mallorca, Menorca, Ibiza and Formentera. This archipelago is strategically located in the middle of the western Mediterranean, within the Balearic Sea, and subjected to the influence of currents from the northwestern Mediterranean and others of Atlantic origin. The Balearic Sea has a good representation of the habitats existing along the Mediterranean, as well as a high biodiversity. There are valuable Posidonia oceanica seagrass meadows, accounting for more than 46,000 hectares, and the ones between Ibiza and Formentera were declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1999. Pollution, sedimentation and poor water quality have not notably altered the habitats. Commercial fishing causes the primary impacts to the ecosystem, but the status of commercial fish stocks is considered to be better than those from most of the Mediterranean. The south of the Balearic Islands is an important area for sea turtles (mainly the loggerhead Caretta caretta, which is threatened by longlines), cetaceans, and a spawning area for endangered bluefin tuna (Thunnus thynnus). Some areas have also been identified as hot spots for other endangered species such as the white skate (Rostroraja alba). The Balearic Basin reaches depths below 2,000 meters, where researchers have documented a variety of deep sea fish species including the Mediterranean spiderfish (Bathypterois mediterraneus). The Balearic Islands also represent the only nesting area to the Balearic shearwater (Puffinus mauretanicus), one of the most threatened marine birds in the world."