ALBORÁN SEA, (September 13th, 2018) – International non-profit Mission Blue has declared the Alborán Sea a Hope Spot, coinciding with the upcoming meeting between IUCN (Intercontinental Union for Conservation of Nature) Center for Mediterranean Cooperation and the Universities of the Alborán Sea to establish a unified system of regulations to protect the waters and species that inhabit it. The area of coastline that lines the Alborán Sea is of high ecological value with an incredible biodiversity of susceptible and endangered species that are currently on the IUCN Red List and protected species of MAPAMA (Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, Food and Environment).
The Alborán Sea is home to some of the highest biodiversity in the Mediterranean, including sea birds, turtles, seahorses, bottlenose dolphins, sharks and dwarf sperm whales. It is also home to a rich collection of planktonic species, red coral, fan mussels, algae, nudibranchs and several endangered fish. Stakeholders are meeting in Málaga, Spain, on September 13th-17th 2018, for the Alborán Sea Forum to discuss a unification of regulations between North Africa and Europe (Spain, Morocco, Algeria) that would allow for the continuance of the success of these species, protect the waters from further pollution caused by excessive marine traffic and help put a stop to overfishing. This convention is a critical—and rare— intercontinental meeting seeking actionable solutions to environmental and ecological concerns.
“The Alborán Sea is transited every day by tankers and cruisers without stopovers, and they harm the passage of cetaceans, bluefin tuna, loggerhead turtle and sea birds,” says Gemma Infante, Hope Spot Champion and Diving Instructor at the Diving School of Eco&Dive Rincón de la Victoria.
Andrés Alcántara, Corporate Development at IUCN adds, “We have excessive marine traffic; the Alborán Sea is the second busiest area for ships in the world. We also see a drastic overfishing problem in the Southern coast of the Alborán Sea. We don’t have thorough regulations there, and our goal at the convention is to discuss an improved policy and stronger enforcement of that policy.”
The upcoming discussion reflects the ongoing conversation with local fishermen to create a sustainable solution to the overfishing problem. Establishing and maintaining a healthy balance between the local environment and the economy will provide long-term benefits for both human and animal life along the Mediterranean.
The Alborán Sea and surrounding coastal area currently holds recognition by the European Union under Natura 2000 as a Site of Community Importance (SCI), two Biosphere Reserves, four Zones of Special Protection of the Mediterranean (ZEPIN), Wetlands of International Importance, Zone of Special Protection for Birds (ZEPA), two Marine Reserves, three Nature Reserves, four Natural Parks, and ten sites of Biological and Ecological Interest. Mission Blue and several organizations in the area share a common goal of creating a coherent network of Marine Protected Areas in and around the Alborán Sea that will create a cohesive set of policies across both the northern coast and the southern coast.
The surrounding coastal communities are known for their cerulean blue water, striking beaches and brilliant Mediterranean sunshine that draw 15 million tourists each year, tripling the number of residents in the area. The world is already so fond of the Mediterranean’s beauty, and public support of this area would greatly benefit the movement to officially protect it with unified policy to prevent further damage to the waters and coast.
“An intercontinental framework to enhance the conservation status of the Alborán Sea Hope Spot is an idea whose time has come, says Dr. Sylvia Earle, Founder of Mission Blue. “Now, as never before, we have the chance to protect the vibrant living systems that support life on the planet. The Alborán Sea Hope Spot, poised at the mouth of Gibraltar, is a critical piece of that work.”
“We need to make known the Alborán Sea’s environmental value for its protection and create a comprehensive Marine Protected Area. This would immensely benefit the area at a social, economic and environmental level. We’re looking forward to working with Mission Blue to grant credibility to what we know firsthand,” Infante adds. “With unified data comes better data, and in turn will result in improved policy. Better policy and stronger enforcement of such policy will bring the needed protection to the Alborán Sea.”
Learn more about efforts to protect the Alborán Sea here.
About Mission Blue
Led by legendary oceanographer Dr. Sylvia Earle, Mission Blue is uniting a global coalition to inspire an upwelling of public awareness, access and support for a worldwide network of marine protected areas— Hope Spots. Under Dr. Earle’s leadership, the Mission Blue team implements communications campaigns that elevate Hope Spots to the world stage through documentaries, social media, traditional media and innovative tools like Google Earth. Mission Blue embarks on regular oceanic expeditions that shed light on these vital ecosystems and build support for their protection. Mission Blue also supports the work of conservation NGOs around the world that share the mission of building public support for ocean protection. The Mission Blue alliance includes more than 200 respected ocean conservation groups and like-minded organizations.
About Diving School of Eco&Dive Rincón de la Victoria
Since 2008, we’ve been raising awareness of the need to protect the Alborán Sea through diving. We aim to make each diver feel like part of the habitat they’re visiting, and help generate passion for sustainability. With each diving experience comes a strengthened connection with the ocean. Since 2012, we have conducted studies in different areas across the Málaga coastline to provide competent authorities and residents the right information to ignite support of protecting the Alborán Sea. Upon conducting studies over several years, we saw the need to create Eco & Dive. Our mission is to teach and raise awareness of the ecological value of the living species that inhabit these areas through scuba diving. In 2015 after 3 years of follow-up in the areas, we joined the municipality of Rincón de la Victoria to clean up the beaches to bring to the residents’ and authorities’ attention of the rich life in this area, including the importance of Limonium malacitanum on the cliffs of the Cantal in the Cove of the Moral.
“Our project is to show the beauty of our sea bottom to protect them from today.”— Eco&Dive.