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Battle to protect Spain's 10,000 endangered marine species
23 July 2018 @ 16:03

SPAIN is home to the largest number of marine fauna species in the European Union – a total of 10,000 in 900 types of habitat – but is also the bloc's fifth-largest producer of plastic with an average of 3.2 items of rubbish, of which 2.3 are plastic, lounging in every square metre of beach.

Plastic items take decades or even centuries to break down and disintegrate – drinks bottles, for example, do not biodegrade for over 500 years.

Latest records show plastic pollution on Spain's coasts is so serious that it makes up 75% of all rubbish cleared off beaches, but this is not the only danger to the country's vast marine biodiversity.

Illegal fishing, overfishing, excess noise and, of course, global warming affect ecosystems, but only 1% of the world's seas are under conservation orders.

This spring, the previous Spanish government, led by the PP, set up the Life IP Intermares plan as part of the Biodiversity Foundation within the ministry for the environment, agriculture, food and fishing – the largest and most ambitious marine conservation project in Europe, financed out of various EU funds totalling €50 million to care for the entire network of protected parts of the continent's seas.

It will involve breeding programmes covering all marine species in the Red Natura 2000 ('Nature Network 2000'), Spain's catalogue of endangered fauna, with the aim of increasing protected offshore reserves tenfold – reflecting the rest of the planet as a whole, 1% of Spanish seas are usnder conservation orders, but the Life IP Intermares programme seeks to increase this to at least 8% immediately, rising to a minimum of 10% by the year 2020.



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