NOW that the Malgrats Islands and the Isla del Toro off Majorca are protected as marine reserves, 60 percent of the protected sea area in the Spanish Mediterranean belongs to the Balearics, according to Margalida Moner, the regional agriculture and fisheries minister. She was speaking after visiting the area by boat, in the company of Balearic leader Jaume Matas, environment minister Jaume Font and the Mayor of Calvia Carlos Delgado and other authorities. It was not just a sight-seeing trip: they helped release into the sea 200 sea bass and gilt head breams, to repopulate the area.
Moner approved the protection orders for the islands, which are off the coast of Calvia, last month, and she praised their importance to the environment. She stressed that the protection of the two areas meant that their biological wealth and marine resources would survive, and the continued presence of fish would allow fishing to be maintained in the area. Moner said that the fish released yesterday had a small identification plaque on their backs, complete with a telephone number to be rung if the fish is caught. The preservation orders cover an area of 250 hectares of protected coast, bringing the total in the Balearics up to 43'000 hectares.
The orders regulate the use and exploitation of fish resources, and only traditional methods of fishing will be allowed, in order to preserve stocks.
Moner said that so far there had been an increase of up to 700 percent in some species, such as dentex and white sea bream.
And, she claimed, this was also another attraction for tourists, explaining that many scuba divers visit the islands every year to practice their favourite sport. The government is also planning to expand the marine reserve in the east of the island to Punta de n'Amer, to an area of 11'000 hectares, double the initial size. The process has already been started and should become effective this month. Originally the protected area was to have stretched to Cap Vermell, now it will go from Betlem to Punta de n'Amer.
The order will regulate the type of fishing allowed and will also protect certain species.
The possibility of installing artificial reefs is still being studied.

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