- The Balearic Island of Menorca was declared a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO in 1993. Menorca’s diverse marine habitats support an abundance of life including bluefin tuna, grouper, octopus, lobsters and seabirds.
- Unfortunately, the island also faces increased pressure from unregulated fishing, tourism and pollution, and the current marine protection scheme is proving ineffective.
- BLUE, in collaboration with Sunseeker International and the Menorca Preservation Fund, has designed a ‘suite’ of projects to address these problems.
Menorca is deemed to be one of the last unspoiled areas of the Mediterranean and boasts an abundance of marine life. A marine protected area exists to the north of the island, designed to restore and preserve the island’s marine ecosystems. A new marine protected area will be designated to the South and in 2019 UNESCO intends to extend the Biosphere Reserve to cover waters within 12 nautical miles of Menorca’s coast. Presently, there is a lack of management and enforcement within protected marine areas around Menorca, due to limited capacity to patrol the seas (especially at night, when illegal fishing is rife) and a general lack of awareness of regulations within the recreational boating sector.
BLUE and its partners have identified five ways in which to improve Menorca’s marine environment:
- BLUE will work with local authorities to support monitoring and enforcement of the marine protected area. BLUE will invest in patrol vessels and marine ‘rangers’ to enforce marine protected area regulations and inform mariners about the marine environment.
- The local, small-scale fishery will become part of the solution rather than part of the problem; a model that has already been proved by BLUE’s project in Lyme Bay, England. BLUE will engage local fishers and establish a ‘code of conduct’ to promote sustainable fishing and effective protection of the marine reserves.
- BLUE and the Menorca Preservation Fund, with the support of Sunseeker International, will establish a network of ‘eco-moorings’ to preserve seagrass beds and improve the environmental impact of tourism. The moorings will be strategically placed in marine protected areas and areas frequented by visiting yachts.
- Healthy marine reserves are more resilient to pollution. BLUE will support specific initiatives to clean marine reserves, removing plastic waste and abandoned, ‘ghost’ fishing nets. Thousands of ‘MORE FISH LESS PLASTIC’ recyclable bags will be supplied to the island and biodegradable food wrapping will be provided to all fishmongers.
- BLUE and Sunseeker will engage boat owners and captains to get involved in various programmes when visiting Menorca, directly involving supporters in real-time conservation.
BLUE hopes that these initiatives will not only address the five focus areas, but will also form a holistic programme that will support the designation of an effective UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, while also improving opportunities for local, small-scale fishers, with a view to restoring Menorca’s diverse marine habitats.