Studies support the need to restore the protection of the Isla del Aire Marine Reserve

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Scientific studies reinforce the need to reinstate the lost protection of the sea near the Illa de l’Aire. There are three times as many fish inside the protected area than outside it. GOB is asking the Balearic Government Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Mae de la Concha, to reconsider urgently this loss of protection before a large part of the progress in conservation has disappeared.

Recently, the latest “report on the state of conservation of fish populations vulnerable to fishing in the marine reserve of the Illa de l’Aire” was published. This was carried out by the Jaume Ferrer Research Station of La Mola (The Balearic Oceanographic Centre, IEO-CSIC) and the Socio Environmental Observatory of Menorca (OBSAM-IME) and financed by Menorca Preservation.

If we compare the results of this report with a study produced in 2018, before the area was declared a marine reserve, we see how, in the area of maximum protection, the abundance and biomass of fish vulnerable to fishing has increased by 50% while unprotected areas have remained the same since 2018. The documentation also shows how the Special Diving Area (the most protected area of the reserve) has three times the amount of fish biomass as outside it.

With these data, the authors of the report conclude that after four years of tracking, the results confirm the potential of the Marine Reserve of the Illa de l’Aire hosting an increased diversity, abundance and biomass as vulnerable to fishing.

However, it should be noted that after the fieldwork of this study was carried out, the Decree 38/2022 was published on 6 September 2022. This decree modified the decree for the creation of the Marine Reserve of the Illa de l’Aire reducing 22% of the area of maximum protection. This new zoning left unprotected an area that has shown, in only three years, to have a great recovery potential. As the authors point out, the lack of protection in this area could affect the recovery and conservation potential of the Reserve towards rocky underground fish populations.

Thus it is again clear, as shown previously, the removal of protection in the Special Diving Area was not made with the support of any scientific criteria nor was it driven by a request from the Island Governing Council of Menorca, as has been shown by their latest reactions.

GOB again asks the Ministry of Agriculture, Fishing and Food of the Balearic Government to reinstate and recover the original zoning that the marine reserve of the Illa de l’Aire was enjoying before the modification made some months ago and for which no motives can be justified.

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