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Balearic highway for whales and dolphins

Oil drilling protection

A special new route for whales and dolphins is being proposed by the Spanish Ministry for the Environment to protect the animals from the harmful effects of oil drilling. The whale highway will be located between the Catalonian coast and the Balearic islands, including Ibiza, though at this point the exact route is still to be decided.

The plan, should it go ahead, will mean that any exploratory oil drilling will be banned in the area of the new highway, and will mean that this part of the sea can cut down on pollution. The area will be designated as a “Specially Protected Zone of Mediterranean Importance” or “Zepim” to help further in protecting the marine ecosystem. It will also be a victory for the many campaigners who want to see an end to oil exploration in this part of the Mediterranean.

The new highway comes with a lot of support from various groups including Alianza Mar Blava, an organisation created specifically to campaign against any kind of oil exploration in the area around the Balearics. For Carlos Bravo, the main coordinator, the announcement is “a clear warning to companies that want to carry out exploratory oil drilling in the area of the environmental unfeasibility of their projects.”

The plan also has an important supporter in the shape of the European Union, whose director general Karmenu Vela, stated in an interview with Europa Press that Brussels has already approved the new Zepim since it supports international agreements on protecting marine biodiversity

The Environment Ministry will put forward the project proposal at the next Mediterranean nations summit, pointing out how certain exploration techniques like the sound waves emitted by high intensity air guns can disrupt the habitats of bottlenose dolphins, pilot whales and sperm whales.

The Mediterranean is home to a wide number of whale and dolphin species and their home needs to be protected if they are to flourish, so let's hope this highway gets the green light.

WORDS: Julian Heathcote

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