Oil Exploration and Marine Protected Areas in the Canaries: Hardly Compatible
Author: Cristina Lopez de las Heras (Volunteer)
Date: August 9, 2012
The Habitats Directive is the most important EU environmental legislation, requiring EU Member States to protect specific habitat types by incorporating them into a network of protected areas (both on land and at sea) called Natura 2000. But it’s not looking like every country is going to meet their requirements.
In the Canary Islands for example, not a single ‘Special Area of Conservation’ has been declared to protect reefs and underwater structures made by leaking gases (two very important habitat types). Furthermore, planned oil exploration activities by Repsol in Lanzarote and Fuerteventura will put these very habitats – which should clearly by incorporated into the Natura network - directly in the line of fire.
According to our latest report (in Spanish), it doesn’t stop with the aforementioned habitats, in fact a total of 25 protected areas, 12 habitat types and 82 endangered species are at risk from oil exploration.
Repsol, the oil company, has not informed the Spanish Government of the presence of protected habitats in the area where they intend to carry out their activities, despite the fact that there is evidence of their presence.
We’re on it.