Everyone knows Mallorca is a popular tourist destination, but did you also know that the island is home to a growing network of marine protected areas?
“With every drop of water you drink, every breath you take, you are connected to the sea.” - Dr Sylvia Earle
As island dwellers, Mallorcans of both the expat and local varieties have a special bond with the sea. It surrounds us, gives us food, enjoyment, and a place to watch a sunrise or sunset. We love our sea… but we haven’t done a particularly good job at protecting her. We’ve allowed waste to be dumped in her, plastics to contaminate her, and disturbed her with our humanly past times. Boats have polluted her, fishermen over-fished her, and people of all walks have done things that put stress on her delicate underwater ecosystems that need balance to survive.
We didn’t mean to (hopefully!) and maybe, for too long, just didn’t know how bad it had gotten. But now we do know and cannot pretend otherwise. We have taken advantage of our beloved sea too long. It's time to stop messing up and start cleaning up!
Happily, recently more and more attention is being given to our oceans and seas, and positive steps are being taken to repair and restore them. One big leap forward happened in 2015, when Mallorca became the first Mission Blue Hope Spot in the Mediterranean. And so begins our story…
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What’s a Hope Spot? #
Hope Spots are the brainchild of oceanographer and Mission Blue founder Dr Sylvia Earle, who calls them “special places that are critical to the health of the ocean.” Essentially, they are places that hold ecological and biodiverse importance. The aim of the Hope Spots is to create a global system of marine protected areas through the support of the public. Mission Blue is her vehicle, and she has created a network of partnerships worldwide to assist her in the task.
Watch the video: Balearic Islands - The Mediterranean Sea's First Hope Spot
Locally, Asociación Ondine, Biotherm Water Lovers and LT&C (Linking Tourism and Conservation) have joined Mission Blue, ensuring community-focused on the ground support.
The name was chosen because each designated Hope Spot area possesses certain qualities that inspire hope in the future and hope for renewal. They are home to endangered, rare or endemic species, are spawning sites, have a multitude of diverse or unusual species or habitats, or are of noteworthy historical or cultural value.
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Why are These Hope Spots Important? #
To look out over the sea may be aethetically pleasing. "But it's not about that", says Dr. Sylvia Earle. "It's about life." The sea is a fragile thing. It may not seem it when you are out on a boat with 3-metre swell or when the undertow drags you out father than your comfort zone allows, but so much more is happening than what we see on the surface. As a result of abuses from tourism, overfishing and general human shenanigans, sea creatures and environments are at risk.
One solution is to create marine protected areas over vast swaths of coastline and waterways. Sometimes these areas are created to protect places in danger, but they are also designated in places where the marine life is flourishing and using these areas to expand on a good thing.
The good news is: Hope Spots in the form of marine protected areas on the Balearics cover 49,000 hectares of coastline totalling 18% of inland waters. There are seven in total, five of which are on Mallorca, and the most in Spain full stop. That’s a lot of protecting!
With the help of the populace…that’s you and me…and continued efforts by the aforementioned organisations and others, our little patch of the Med could be the healthiest patch in the not too distant future, ensuring beauty, wonder and enjoyment for many years to come!
“When people care and take action it does pay off” - Dr Sylvia Earle
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By Stephanie Horsman
5 July, 2019