Palma.— The proposals put forward by Oceana's European Executive Director, Xavier Pastor, entail the official protection of subsea mountains in the Canal of Majorca, covering an area of 2'820 square kilometres housing delicate and highly valuable marine ecosystems and judged to be one of the most important in Spanish waters. From research undertaken by the conservationists in Balearic waters on successive occasions, scientists found 29 vulnerable species, some of which are threatened with extinction. These include some species of dolphin, turtle, and sea snails whose numbers are continually dwindling in the face of dragnet trawling.

Last year, scientists on Oceana's catamaran Oceana Ranger, focusing their studies on the area they now want established as a marine reserve, used high-tech underwater cameras operated from a remote controlled submarine to capture images of the sea creatures and plants. It is these images which will form the backbone of the proposals that Oceana want made to Central Government.

The expeditions have been financed in part using funds provided by Spain's Ministry for the Environment.
Pastor said that were the area in the Canal of Majorca to be made a marine reserve, the move could in fact benefit the local fishing industry because fish would flourish alongside protected marine life.

Both the Balearic and Central Governments have recently given support to the project in principle after Oceana has for years been providing irrefutable evidence about the need to preserve the undersea environment. Biodiversity Foundation Director, Ana Leiva said that governments need to work together for the creation of the reserve in conjunction with the fishing industry.


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