Mediterranean ‘highway’ planned to protect marine life from oil exploration

The Spanish government has backed proposals for a safe zone which would run between the Balearic Islands and the Catalan coast

Alistair Dawber
Madrid
Tuesday 05 January 2016 21:30
Comments
Spain, Andalusia, Tarifa, Long-finned pilot whales and sperm whales in the Strait of Gibraltar
Spain, Andalusia, Tarifa, Long-finned pilot whales and sperm whales in the Strait of Gibraltar

Plans to create a “highway” in the western Mediterranean to protect whales and other marine mammals threatened by oil exploration projects have been backed by the Spanish government.

Madrid’s environment ministry will propose the project at the next summit of Mediterranean nations. It will say that the exploration techniques in the area, such as the use of high-intensity air guns that emit sound waves, risk disrupting the habitats of pilot whales, sperm whales and bottlenose dolphins.

Under the proposals for the so-called “highway”, a safe zone, which would run between the Balearic Islands and the Catalan coast, would be created. Exploration in the area would cease and a Zepim, or “Specially Protected Zone of Mediterranean Importance”, would be enforced.

The announcement is a victory for environmental campaigners who have long argued that oil companies threaten the sea’s natural environment. Carlos Bravo, who works for the Alianza Mar Blava, an alliance of environmental groups and the Balearic regional government, told the La Vanguardia newspaper that all drilling and acoustic surveys in the area would be banned.

The project already has the support of the European Commission. The director general for its environment directorate, Karmenu Vela, said that Brussels had already approved “a new Zepim in the Mediterranean corridor” in an interview with Europa Press.

Exactly where the corridor would be routed remains uncertain. According to La Vanguardia, the firm Schlumberger has licences to look for oil in blocks near the Balearics – but it is not clear if the company’s activities would be threatened by the proposals.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged in