The Beacon

Oceana Proposes a Canary Islands MPA

Last week, in a culmination of several years of work, our European colleagues presented a proposal to protect 15% of the marine area around Spain’s Canary Islands. If the proposal is accepted, it would multiply the current protected area by 100.

Here’s the back story: In 2009 the Oceana Ranger, our research catamaran, sailed to the Canaries, which are off the coast of Morocco. Over the course of two months, the crew documented the seamounts and seabeds of the archipelago, and found a dozen species never before seen in the area, and filmed many rare species, including three-foot-tall glass sponges, Venus fly-trap anemones and lollipop sponges. (For more on the Canaries see this piece from our magazine last winter.)

The protected area would harbor many other threatened species in the area, such as sea turtles, deep-sea sharks, seahorses, the giant grouper, blue and right whales and the white gorgonian.

Our proposal would comply with the U.N. Convention on Biological Diversity, which states that 10% of the global marine environment should be protected by 2012. (The date was postponed until 2020 because participating countries were not complying.)

We’ll be sure to keep you posted on the outcome of the proposal. In the meantime, check out a few photos (above)of the habitats and species we are working to protect in the Canaries - enjoy!


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