Tag Archives: Marine ecology

Petition to the State Government for marine protection

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Fifteen environmental organisations are asking the Government to strengthen the protection commitments of the Spanish Mediterranean Sea. The organisations call for decisive actions and request participatory governance for the presentation of detailed explanations, implementation and evaluation of the plans for managing the area.

Continue reading Petition to the State Government for marine protection

The Cala Teulera ramp, projected over a protected area

Views: 400

The Port Authority has tendered the construction of a dry dock ramp in the port of Mahon, in a protected area, with no possibility of parking and with the danger of affecting species under special protection. GOB has sent a letter to the port authority warning of these significant deficiencies.

Continue reading The Cala Teulera ramp, projected over a protected area

S’Estany de Mongofra and the problem of microplastics

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GOB organised a clean up of the coast along s’Estany de Mongofra that took place on Sunday 23 July. The topography and the enclosed coves of this unique area make it particularly prone to the accumulation of waste brought in by the sea.

The fifty volunteers that came to help were distributed to various points already identified around s’Estany. In total, they collected 83 kilos of waste, mostly plastics. The presence of microplastics in the area, with muddy or pebble beaches, made them difficult to collect, so that they could only be collected manually picking up each one by one.

It was a day of intense heat so that the mid-morning snacks, with Land Stewardship Scheme farm products, above all the melons and watermelons, helped rehydration and to give strength to continue with the task.

At the end of the day, the different types of waste were separated. This time, the remains of broken plastics made up the main part of the waste, weighing 29 kg, followed by bulky plastic waste, 23 kg, and in third place were the ropes weighing 17 kg. What is surprising is the large number of stoppers that can be found, on this occasion 3.5 kilograms that took up a volume of 30 litres.

Since 2015, GOB has organised various clean up days at the same point and something interesting has been observed that, with the passing of time, the smallest plastics (microplastics, mesoplastics and others) have been replacing the larger objects that used to represent the most common waste. These small waste objects are nothing more than the result of plastic degradation, which, as we all know, is not biodegradable so that it breaks up into smaller and smaller pieces that end up in the trophic chain and become ingested by humans.

We are grateful to all the volunteers that took part on this day and we encourage everyone to take advantage of their beach days and collect the plastic waste they are sure to find in the sand.

This event was supported by the Island Governing Council and the Menorca Preservation Fund.

For photographs, please look here

Formal complaints about the new pontoons in the Fornells Port

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Puertos, the Port Authority of the Balearic Islands, have opened a file for a concession to build and make use of five pontoons in Fornells Port. GOB has made formal complaints in order to remind that these new facilities were approved with a series of environmental conditions that must now be followed.

Let us remember that the project of remodelling the Fornells Port was conditional on a series of measures that had to be carried out prior to the commissioning of the new pontoons. Let us look at the conditions:

  • The Balearic Port Authority has to contribute 30,000 euros per season to the Posidonia Fund, in the form of an anchorage monitor who, in the summer season, daily monitors all the LIC (Communal Places of Importance) of the Marine Area of the North of Menorca and all the LIC of Punta Redonda Arenal de un Castillo. The first payment made before the occupation of pontoon L.
  • Send to the Environment Councillor of the Balearic Islands, underwater photographs of the pontoons A and B with their surroundings to show that they have not dredged the red zone of the posidonia reef outlined in plan 1 of the attached cartographic image, as well as a map of the new bathymetric levels resulting from the dredging.
  • Photographs of the pontoons F and G where it shows that the fingers and rings of the 41 mooring places to be removed have been dismantled.
  • Photographs of the beacons installed that delimit the prohibited navigation area so as not to affect the seabed, as well as the entry and exit channels.
  • Copy of the announcement of the tender of the works concerning the installation of the ecological buoy fields in the bay of Fornells.
  • Photographs of the buoys already installed in the coves to the east of the bay and along the north side of the dock.
  • Copy of the tender announced for the contract of service, or in this case, of the signed agreement, or of whatever other type of valid agreement, for the execution of the restoration of 5119.92 square metres of Posidonia Oceanica and Cymodocea nodosa. (This activity must be associated with the tracking of the meadows in the whole of the port area, especially in the restored area, following the criteria of the agreement of the Nature Network Committee of 27 May 2008).
  • Propose means for minimising the visual impact of the bollards to the General Directorate of Natural Spaces and Biodiversity.

GOB also asked that criteria for historical heritage and sustainability of boats be applied when prioritizing the allocation of moorings. Specifically, it asked for priority to boats of traditional construction of less than 8 metres, those that move by sail, electric motor or powered by technologies more sustainable than fossil fuels.

It should be borne in mind that studies carried out on nautical load capacity of the Menorcan coast shows that the defined maximum has been exceeded for 13 years. For this reason, the final increase in moorings that is to be carried out in Fornells of 77 new points, is also dependent on the financing, installation and management of the 77 ecological buoys in coves within and outside of the bay, given that this area can no longer accommodate more boats in high season.

Volunteering to clean up the coast at Mongofra

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GOB is organizing a clean-up day on Sunday 23 July at s’Estany de Mongofra, one of the most beautiful places on the island.

Owing to its northern situation and the topography of the coves, a great deal of rubbish coming in from the sea accumulates there. In 2018, a rubbish collection was organised and nearly 500 kilos of waste was collected, but, as we have seen the beaches are once again full of plastics, especially micro plastics.

The event is open to everyone, and we encourage you to invite your families and friends. It is suitable for adults and children.

On this occasion, two meeting points have been organised for sharing cars. At 8.15 in the parking area of the poliesportiu of Maó. For those who do not come from Maó, at 8.45 in the car park of the Tramuntana School (Ses Escoles, ctra Favàritx 24).

In the middle of the morning, there will be a break for a snack of products from the network of Land Stewardship Scheme farms, for all participants.

GOB will take all the necessary materials for the cleaning operation, but if you have your own gloves, then take them. It is important to be well equipped with closed shoes, sun hat, sun cream and bottles of water to cope with the heat. You will have to walk about 20 minute from the houses to the base point where we will organise groups and select the types of waste found.

If you wish to participate, please complete this form . Or telephone GOB (971 350 762), or go to the office any morning from 9.00 to 14.00 H, at Camí des Castell 53, Maó. It is important to state how many people you will be, your telephone number or email, and which meeting point you choose.

The volunteering day coincides with the general elections, but it is expected that the activity will end at 13.30.

We look forward to seeing you!

Cala Corb lesson and the danger to s’Altra Banda

Views: 236

Four years of paralysis for ignoring the environmental laws

In Cala Corb, on the southern pavement of the Port of Maó works for connecting the pavement with the Moll d’en Pons, have been stopped for four years.

The reason was that the procedure used by the Port Authority awarded work consisting of a cantilevered walkway and suddenly, without any formalities or prior authorisation, it was turned into a construction dock with dozens of trucks emptying rocks into the sea.

A cantilevered walkway attached to the rock-face has hardly any effect on the marine environment, but, obviously, tons and tons of rocks being poured into the sea will transform its environment radically.

Any land subject to European laws, for some decades past, before causing such a transformation such as this, first commissions an environmental impact study, to know what values exist and to see if things can be done in such a way that cause the least loss of natural values.

A significant environmental impact

However, the Port Authority maintains that, as Maó is a State port, the environmental impact law does not apply, it has validity, they say, only in areas that have regional jurisdiction.

State regulation, however, is applicable over protected species. So, if works end up affecting a protected species, then there is a cumbersome terrain of reports, potential sanctions and specific authorisations. This is what has occurred at Cala Corb.

The dumping of rocks without control seriously affected a colony of protected coral that has been practically devastated. Had this been done by an individual, they would have been fined and in danger of being prosecuted through criminal channels.

Before a fait acompli, it was necessary to wait for a resolution from the corresponding ministerial department that had undertaken to contract a scientific service to move the remains of the coral to another part of the Maó port. Four years of paralysis and added costs for not wanting to realise that environmental laws are the same as others.

A new threat to the northern walkway: works and desalination plants

Recently, the Port Authority has put the management out to tender of the moorings by the northern walkway (the area known as s’Altra Banda) as well as those attached to the Isla del Rey.

Having consulted the specifications it can be deduced that whoever takes on the concession could significantly increase the number of moorings and, consequently, the areas where new installations could be put. To the 390 moorings that there are now, could be added another 250.

This intention contradicts two important points. In the first place, it implies adding a large number of new boats when Menorca has a study of the nautical load capacity of the island that was already saturated more than 10 years ago.

The second point is that it means altering new areas where no studies of the natural values have been presented.

The tender specifications also allow for installing various small desalination plants to provide water for the boats. But, there is no explanation for what is planned for the salt water generated by the desalination plants and it is not necessary to be very perceptive in deducing that it will be poured into the port itself which will significantly alter the natural environment.

The Port of Maó is a natural port

The large marine area that provides safe anchorage for Maó is a natural port that houses protected species and that offers important biological functions. The dynamic that tries to continue growth each year with new infrastructures and, furthermore, without doing previous studies on any environmental impact, serves to provide the basis for new environmental conflicts.

GOB has asked that any new pontoons are constructed with a system of “piles and fingers” (rather than with concrete blocks and chains) in order to better protect the seabed. They also requested that priority on waiting lists for a mooring be given to boats of traditional construction, with sail or electric drive motor.

It was also requested that no increases be made for moorings near areas where there is seafood, since water in a good condition is required and it is important to maintain economic diversification within the port.

Acting with a vision for the future

The proposal from GOB is that the orientation of the Port of Maó is focussed on improving the quality of its nautical services as well as improving shipyard boat maintenance and not on increasing the number of boats in the sea.

The level of the nautical saturation now seen in many of the coves during the summer, as well as the need to recover environmental values that have been lost due to excesses committed in the last decades, leads us to ask for a new commitment that is not based on quantity but on quality.

Positive Tourism (8) – Posidonia on the beaches

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This is the latest announcement as part of the campaign for Positive Tourism that we have been publishing in the last few weeks on some parts of tourism that need to be managed in a different way.

On this occasion, the chosen theme is the presence of posidonia on beaches. It is of great value but even so is removed from the parts of the coastline with the most tourists.

This peculiar plant, that is colonising the sea, that makes flowers and can live thousands of years, is intrinsically linked with the formation of the beaches on our islands. Scientific studies estimate that most of the sand is made from organisms that reproduce in the posidonia meadows.

The debris that reaches the seashore helps to capture the sand moved with the wind to form dune systems. They are also important for curbing the effects of winter storms.

Posidonia captures large quantities of CO2, holding the carbon in its stems and releasing oxygen. It constitutes one of the richest ecosystems at animal level in our marine environment.

Scientific publications suggest that posidonia could be the longest living species of the biosphere. Samples taken from the waters of Formentera show them to be more than 100,000 years old.

However, it grows very slowly, so that it is vulnerable to human aggressive activity. In our environment, the indiscriminate anchoring of many boats, the discharge of poorly purified emissions, brine returned to the sea from desalination plants, and the disturbance of mud that clouds the waters caused by aggressive use of motorboat engines, are some of the causes of degradation that are being observed.

In the last few years, legal protection has progressed for this species that forms a habitat considered a priority at a European level. It is no longer removed from most of the natural beaches and now there are surveillance boats to stop anchoring over the posidonia meadows.

Yet, how surprising that the tourist industry still calls for its removal from urbanized beaches. With the knowledge we have of the outstanding contribution made by this marine plant, its presence should be valued. Posidonia is not dirt.

What is dirt is the massive presence of plastics that are a consequence of a production system generating an enormous quantity of non-biodegradable rubbish, which is left uncontrolled in the environment. Going to the root of this global problem by stopping buying from providers that do not evolve into using biodegradable materials ought to be a universal commitment and a general request should be heard from tourist spokespersons given that they represent the most powerful economic activity in the archipelago.

You can see other announcements for the tourism campaign by clicking here Positive tourism