Safe haven set up
A vast sanctuary for cetaceans and other protected sea creatures has been set up off the coast of the Valencia region.
A VAST protection area for cetaceans has been established off the coast of the Valencia region and Cataluña.
Measuring some 46,000 square kilometres, it is designed to be a safe haven for whales, dolphins and porpoises, as well as protected species such as the loggerhead turtle.
The ‘migratory corridor’ runs between the Balearic Islands and mainland Spain – from Cap de Creus near the French border to Cabo de la Nao in Alicante.
The new Socialist party (PSOE) government approved the declaration of the marine protection area (AMP) last Friday by royal decree.
Minister for the ecological transition of Spain, Teresa Ribera said the objective is to protect the sea creatures from harmful influences such as noise pollution in the sea.
She noted that a great variety of species pass through this zone as they migrate to areas where their young are born. For this reason prospecting for oil in the AMP zone will be banned, along with any geological exploration which involves controlled explosions or soundings.
“All new activity of this kind will be prohibited, along with extraction of hydrocarbons,” explained Sra Ribera.
“We will also revise all the licences which are still in force.”
She noted that the marine reserve will cover an area similar in size to Spain’s vast inland region of Aragon.
“It is excellent news for the protection of our seas,” added the minister.
“Cetaceans need such areas where they can reproduce and their young can grow into adulthood in healthy conditions.
“This declaration will ensure that they can do that in complete freedom.”
Sra Ribera noted that the one of the species which passes through the area is the fin whale, the second-largest mammal on Earth after the blue whale.
She explained that this cetacean heads north to feed and give birth in waters in the northern Mediterranean.
Ecologist groups have celebrated the move. Greenpeace said it was very important news, although the declaration ‘has come very late’.
General secretary of the WWF, Juan Carlos del Olmo said it was great news for cetaceans and the government should now move to regulate the ‘intense maritime traffic in the area’.
Sra Ribera noted that this was the first measure in a series of actions which her ministry considers ‘fundamental’ to protect the seas and marine biodiversity.
Dolphins off the coast of the Valencia region