Robust knowledge and data are essential to improve the state of the Balearic Sea. The Balearic Sea Report (Informe Mar Balear) launched this week by the main research institutions of the Islands, the Balearic Government and Marilles Foundation is the answer to this need. Available in Spanish from: www.informemarbalear.org
The report counts with more than 100 indicators which have been contributed by more than 60 researchers from 25 institutions. Some indicators describe the state of non-biological elements such as temperature or salinity, whereas others describe the evolution of critical habitats and relevant species such as the spiny lobster or the red prawn.
The document also gives information about the pressures to which the Balearic sea is subjected such as the Human Pressure Index or the increase in number of boats. The final section focuses on socio-economic aspects such as the number of companies and employment directly linked to the sea and the response we give as a society to some of these pressures.
There are some clear trends emerging. Marine Protected Areas Surface has been increaseing steadily over the past decades, however the amount we spend on them is stalling, which means that expenditure by KM2 is decreasing. Several indicators about dempographic pressure are on the rise, and we also see a increase in the expansion of invasive seaweeds. The professional fishing sector is in decline, but fishing reserves are delivering positive impacts increasing number and size of commercial fish species, which suggests that future of several fishing fleets depends on the good management (and financing!) of marine reserves.
How did we get here?
Marilles Foundation has funded this project with circa 100,000 Euro because we see this is as an essential step to deliver a goal shared by many. Turning the Balearics into a world reference of marine conservation. Without good information we can’t assess the impact of our conservation actions or track progress.
This is why at the end of 2018 the Marilles Foundation proposed to the main scientific institutions of the Balearic Islands to work together towards a common objective: to prepare a report describing the state of the Balearic Islands’ marine environment, the pressures at which It is subject and the answers we give as a society. An objective report, with a scientific basis and with the ambition of being expanded and regularly updated, and containing indicators that allow us to follow the evolution of the state of the Balearic Sea over time.
The response was positive, and in only 15 months we have produced a landmark report which will be helpful guidance to decision-makers in both public and private sectors. There is a lot of work behind this publication, and we want to thank the efforts of dozens of researchers and technical staff who have shared information and dedicated their time selflessly to this project.
Despite all the information collected, we are still far from being able to make a diagnosis of the state of the Balearic Sea. This report is the start of a long-term project, a snapshot of some of the information we have been able to gather to date, but not necessarily what we need. The report makes evident that there are important data gaps that need to be filled. Throughout the next years we will continue working to advance this collective project adding new institutions and collaborations onboard.
Marilles has contributed 100,000 Euro to this project and will continue to support it but in order to meet the scale of the challenge and fill key information this project will need more funding. We count with your support.