The process of creating the marine reserve Freu de sa Dragonera has been initiated by the regional government. This area by the island of Dragonera, a relatively small one of just over 700 hectares has, says the ministry of the environment and fisheries, considerable ecological and fishing value: a 2004 study by the High Council for Scientific Research established that there is high diversity of habitats and species.
The minister, Vicenç Vidal, announced the start of the process, which will end with the issuing of a decree that formally permits the reserve, during a visit to the Laboratory for Marine and Aquaculture Research in Puerto Andratx, where there are cages and a ship that are used in local studies.
A marine reserve means that the exploitation of living underwater resources is restricted, with the aim being to promote repopulation and to protect ecosystems with distinct characteristics. On the seabed by Dragonera there are extensive Posidonia sea grass meadows which facilitate high biological production and breeding. The area earmarked as a reserve is, therefore, considered to require a high level of protection. It includes part of the existing site of community interest of Dragonera and forms part of the natural park marine environment.
Reports by the marine resources service indicate that vulnerable fishing stocks are well below those which should potentially be conserved. For this reason, therefore, the ministry considers it necessary to regulate fishing activities in order to ensure that the area is managed in a way that is consistent with the conservation of biological richness and living marine resources. The ministry further notes that, among other measures, there should be special areas for recreational diving so as to allow sustainable and harmonious development along with other activities.
The creation of the marine reserve would represent the culmination of calls for it from various pressure groups as well as public institutions, such as the town hall in Andratx and indeed the Balearic parliament.
The ministry says that the initiative is part of a global drive towards marine protection, which has the aim of safeguarding 20% of oceans by 2020. The Balearic Sea would be the only part of the Mediterranean which has such consideration and protection.
The reserve would add to the network that has been established since the end of the last century. There are currently seven marine reserves with a total area of 58,000 hectares.