Safe haven set up

Costa Blanca News (South Edition) - - Front Page - By Dave Jones djones@cb­news.es

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

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