Cabrera National Park Expansion


The Mediterranean Sea is considered one of the main hot spots of biodiversity on the planet. It harbors a wide variety of endemic species, and the existence of vulnerable, threatened and endangered species in this sea has been widely proven.

Grant Recipient: Oceana
Project Support: Campaign to Extend Cabrera National Park
Term: 2011 – 2013

Oceana aims to expand the Marine Protected Area (MPA) of Cabrera National Park in Spain’s Balearic Islands, including development of a suitable management plan. At this time, Oceana has a significant opportunity to build on Oceana’s previous scientific research and extensive advocacy to achieve protection of the important marine area that currently lies outside of Cabrera National Park. Oceana will pursue two avenues to achieve the goal. Primarily, Oceana will ask Spain to expand the National Park boundaries. At the same time, they will also seek inclusion of the area within the EU framework of marine protected areas, to reinforce designation by Spain.

About Cabrera National Park


The Balearic Island archipelago is located in the western Mediterranean Sea off Spain’s eastern coast. The archipelago consists of three major islands (Majorca, Minorca, and Ibiza) with other small islands such as Cabrera and Formentera.

 Cabrera National Park includes the Cabrera Archipelago in the Balearic Islands, Spain and is made up of 19 small islands with an area of 1,318 hectares on land, as well as a maritime area of 8,703 hectares. The Balearics are home to an astonishing system of underwater seamounts as well as one of the most important spawning grounds for Mediterranean bluefin tuna. Cabrera National Park is crucial for many migratory and sea birds, as well as important marine species. Oceana has identified a dozen ecosystems and nearly 300 species within the National Park. Long-finned pilot whales, bottlenose dolphins, corals, and even rare carnivorous sponges are endemic to this area.

However, the current size of the MPA in Cabrera National Park is not sufficient. Since 2006, Oceana has conducted over 30 submersions to document the seamounts and marine life in the area, revealing many important habitats that urgently need protection, such as thick kelp forests, extraordinary coralline formations, rich maërl beds, and gorgonian gardens. The waters are important for loggerhead sea turtles, bottlenose dolphins, striped dolphins, and pilot whales. Some of these species are threatened species included in Annexes II and IV of the Protocol of Specially Protected Areas of Importance for the Mediterranean of the Convention of Barcelona and Annex II of the Convention of Bern.

Protection Benefits

Protecting the area will preserve its biodiversity, providing much-needed protection for important seafloor habitats and seamounts, as well as for sea turtles, dolphins, and whales. Furthermore, the restrictions will facilitate possible use of the area to reintroduce the monk seal to the western Mediterranean, as discussed at a high level in the European Union. The Mediterranean monk seal is considered to be the world’s rarest pinniped and is one of the most endangered marine mammals in the world.

Cabrara Mediterranean monk seal

The Mediterranean monk seal, is listed by the IUCN as critically endangered. Photo: Hellio & Van Ingen

Tourism will benefit from the rebounding of these animals. Local fishermen will benefit from recovery of groupers and other important commercial species through protection and recovery of posidonia forests and other habitats. By enhancing the area’s productivity as a marine nursery, the expanded MPA will also yield long-term benefits for sustainable fishing outside the protected zone. Oceana’s proposed expansion will extend the marine portion of Cabrera National Park by 787 sq km, making it 9 times larger than the current surface area.

Proposed Regulations & Restrictions

To date, Oceana has been engaged primarily in advocacy and outreach at the national and local levels to build the necessary political momentum, as well as garner broad public support for the expansion project.

Key regulations that would apply throughout the entire expanded MPA are:

– No bottom trawling or industrial purse seining
– Closed-access fisheries, limited to Mallorca vessels proving historical area fishing
– Vessel-monitoring systems installed on all fishing boats

In addition, Oceana proposes three sub-regions with differing levels of permitted uses:

– Reserve area: Virtually all uses precluded
– Moderate-se area: Artisanal fishing subject to above limits, diving & anchorage allowed
– Restricted-use area: Artisanal fishing subject to above limits, diving restricted & anchorage not allowed


Accounting for only 0.8 percent of the world’s ocean area, the Mediterranean contains 18 percent of all described marine species, of which 25 to 30 percent are found no where else in the world.

Project Implementation

This campaign is managed from Oceana’s office in Spain. Silvia García, Marine Habitat Scientist at Oceana, will be in charge of developing the campaign as Campaign Manager, with the support of Ricardo Aguilar, Oceana’s Science and Campaign Director in Europe. Other Oceana staff supporting the campaign are Pilar Marin, Marine Habitat Scientist; María José Cornax, Fisheries Campaign Manager; and Jorge Ubero, GIS Analyst. Oceana’s Communications team in Madrid will also support the campaign via press and media work. Oceana’s campaign team has extensive experience in working on similar projects, such as the extension of the Doñana National Park, the creation of a marine corridor between Spain and France, the Seco de los Olivos Seamount project sponsored by the EU, and many other projects where their skills and expertise have combined into the most effective campaign strategies for achieving clear outcomes.


School of damselfishes. Na Picamosques, Cabrera National Park, Balearic Islands, Spain. Catamaran Oceana Ranger Mediterranean Expedition: Photo: EUO © OCEANA Juan Cuetos

About Oceana

Oceana’s mission is to protect and restore the world’s oceans. We are a science-based, campaign-driven, global non-profit organization exclusively dedicated to this mission. Oceana was established in 2001 by a group of leading foundations that shared a vision of creating a broad-based advocacy organization to address one of the planet’s most pressing problems–the destruction of the world’s vast ocean habitats. We are focused on addressing the four main factors driving the oceans to collapse–the destruction of seafloor habitat; bycatch; overfishing caused by excessive subsidies to fishing fleets worldwide; and pollution, including increased carbon dioxide emissions that lead to climate change and ocean acidification.


oceana_logo.pngOceana’s Cabrera Overview
Oceana’s Mediterranean Overview
Oceana’s Website

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