WWF Sailboat, 'Blue Panda'. | MDB Archive

8 million tons of plastic gets dumped into the sea every year and the World Wildlife Fund is determined to put a stop to it.

Abandoned, or lost nets and fishing gear, aka Ghost nets are one of the biggest threats to marine biodiversity, because as they drift in the water they trap fish, dolphins, sea turtles, sharks, seabird and crabs and other marine life, which usually die of starvation, injury, infection or suffocation because they can’t get to the surface to breathe.

Ghost nets account for up to 10% of plastic waste in our oceans, making it the most harmful form of plastic pollution to marine species.

With the COP 16 celebrations underway in Glasgow, the WWF wants to stress the urgency of tackling the threat that climate change poses for the sea and pointed out that maintaining healthy, balanced ecosystems with a natural capacity to adapt to change, is the best way to protect and conserve them against climate change.

"Well-managed marine protected areas can do a lot to reduce the stress on marine populations,” said WWF.

The WWF’s ‘Blue Panda’ docked in Palma on Monday after sailing via Zakynthos in Greece, Kas Kekova in Turkey, the French island of Corsica and Tabarka in Tunisia. These marine protected areas are part of a network that covers 4% of Mediterranean waters.

The WWF is demanding that fully protected areas of the Mediterranean Sea be increased from 1.27% to 30% by 2030.

The protected marine surface owned by Spain has increased from less than 1% to 12.23% in less than a decade, thanks in largely to the Life+, Indemares and Intemares projects.

"We need more marine protected areas," said José Luis García, Head of WWF Spain Seas Programme. "The world's leading scientists recommend that at least 30% of the sea should be protected through AMP and other conservation measures.”

WWF is also planning to hold open days with activities for the public to raise awareness about the serious threat that ghost nets pose.

On Wednesday, photographer and biologist, Juan Carlos Calvín will present his ‘Flora and Fauna Guide to the Mediterranean’ onboard the ‘Blue Panda’ which outlines part of the history of the Mediterranean and the evolution of threats in the last 25 years.

On Thursday, ‘Blue Panda’ will set sail for Ibiza to work in the Tagomago reserve, where the WWF has been collaborating with the Cofradía de Pescadores de Ibiza, the Consell de Ibiza and the GEN GOB.

WWF says the priority now is to focus on completing this network of protected areas and ensuring that they are effectively managed.

The World Wildlife Fund sailboat, ’Blue Panda’ will remain in Balearic waters until November 5.