The Balearic Islands - Oceana USA

The Balearic Islands

Spain’s Balearic Archipelago, which includes the islands of Majorca, Minorca, Ibiza, Formentera and Cabrera, has been noted as the birthplace of tens of thousand of bluefin tuna every year since the Carthaginians first arrived thousands of years ago.

It is an ancient, special place, but today, due to industrial fishing, bluefin tuna and the many other species that call the Balearics home, including sea turtles, sharks, dolphins and endangered monk seals, are in steep decline.

The Balearics are one of the most important spawning areas for bluefin tuna in the world and, as a result, one of the most heavily targeted fishing grounds for bluefin. Many scientists believe that bluefin tuna in the Balearics and in all of the Atlantic Ocean are in serious trouble. These animals are some of the most magnificent in the ocean — bluefin can reach 15 ft in length, weigh up to 2,000 pounds and reach speeds of up to 55 miles per hour.

Oceana is working to make the Balearic Islands a bluefin sanctuary by campaigning within the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT). ICCAT is the primary regulator for bluefin and Oceana has had great success in the past there, advancing protections for bluefin and sharks.

The seamounts Ses Olives, Ausias Marc and Emile Baudot lie just offshore of Formentera and Cabrera Islands in the Balearics. With summits found at 80 meters’ depth, this fascinating group of seamounts and walls creates the ideal habitat for a wide array of marine organisms from sponges to wrasse and mullet fish species and even bottlenose dolphins.

The seamounts reach depths of over 400 meters and provide a diverse assortment of habitats for many marine species. Oceana scientists have filmed and documented these incredible seamounts using underwater robots and are using this information to campaign to create marine protected areas for these seamounts and to ensure that these species can rebound to their former abundance.