People who protect the sea 

Published 18.03.2024


People who protect the sea 

"Salta", MARE Sapiens 2023 adults amateur first prize (Photo: Jordi Cerdà Santacreu).

When citizens love a territory, they become its best advisors, watchdogs, and disseminators. At Marilles, we are very clear that to guarantee the future of marine protected areas (MPAs), they must be desired and not imposed. 

Working with the communities that live in and enjoy an MPA is an essential condition to collectively advancing towards better conservation of the sea and the Balearic coast. The residents who live, sail, dive, walk, fish, observe, contemplate, and experience their particular MPA daily must be able to give their opinion and feel that their voice counts. 

Since inception, Marilles has been committed to working with coastal communities. We have supported projects such as El Mar una responsabilidad compartida and Red Dragonera Azul led respectively by GEN-GOB in the Pitiusas and Save the Med in Mallorca. These projects have helped to create spaces for dialogue and participatory governance, seeking common ground and finding solutions to management challenges. 

It is not by chance that the management plans of the Natura 2000 marine areas in the Pitiusas are much more advanced than in the other islands, and, indeed, in the rest of Spain. It is not by chance that in Puerto Andratx and Sant Elm there are regular meetings with the participation of the local community, be it fishers, schools, entities, nautical clubs, restaurants, or local administrations. It is not by chance that we find the beautiful and unique silhouette of Sa Dragonera more frequently in the streets, schools, and shops of Andratx. Rather, it is thanks to the success of these initiatives. 

And this success is contagious. A little over a year ago, a participatory governance project was launched in the Bay of Pollença (Mallorca) and another is being developed on the island of Aire (Menorca). 

From Marilles, we will continue to work and contribute our grain of sand to strengthen coastal communities and give a voice to the diversity of citizens who want to protect the sea. 

Leadership on the ground is essential. But if we want to be a reference in marine conservation and ensure the effective protection of our marine spaces with all the benefits that this entails, we also need political leadership. In early March, together with other leading marine conservation organisations, we presented the 30x30 agreement to the Ministry of Ecological Transition. We continue to work hard to ensure that the Balearic government and all parliamentary groups implement the five commitments of the Balearic Blue Deal. The parliamentary debate on 12 March was a missed opportunity to make progress on the first commitment: that a minimum of 10% of the Balearic Sea be highly protected. We would like to see concrete action from the Balearic (and central) government in this regard. For the moment, the silence is deafening.


Aniol Esteban - Director

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