Salps (Sarpa salpa) are herbivorous fish that often form large shoals. | Xavier Mas

A lack of data limits our ability to manage the pressures on the sea and the Balearic coast. This is one of the main barriers to improving the conservation status of our marine and coastal environment.
While the 170+ indicators found in the Balearic Sea Report (IMB) as a result of the hard work and dedication of research centres and staff of public departments shine a light into the darkness, the reality is that we still have major shortcomings.

We don’t know how many fish are caught each year by the tens of thousands of recreational fishers who practice recreational fishing in the Balearic Islands. We don’t know how many turtles, sharks, rays, birds, and other vulnerable species are accidentally caught by the professional fishing fleet. We don’t know how many boats sail in our waters, or how much we invest in the conservation of our sea. Yes, we know that marine reserves help to improve fish stocks but we don’t know what impact they have on many other species, or the economic benefits they generate. We don’t know the real quality of the bathing waters on many parts of the coast. We don’t know the volume of fish product that is fraudulently marketed in the Balearic Islands (it will be difficult to know for sure but we could try to find out). We don’t know what role the state of our sea and our coast plays in the choice of destination of millions of tourists who visit us every year (but we can imagine that it is and will become more and more important).

In the context of digitalisation, where the world of data is receiving more attention than ever, the time has come to fill these gaps. We must implement data collection systems that provide us with this information. While we have the technology and the solutions, we lack the initiative and the funding. We need an initiative and funding that comes from our governments and from the private sector - especially from the tourism, nautical, and fishing sectors, whose main interest is having a sea and a coast in good condition.