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Bioinvasion - The Southern Coast of Spain is under attack from a foreign species of algae
06 October 2019 @ 23:46

For over six months now catching any fish in the Strait of Gibraltar has become extremely difficult. On hurling their nets into the waters with the hopes of catching sole, bream or cuttlefish, the only catch they have managed to haul in was worrying amounts of brown algae. However, this is no ordinary algae. Rugulopterix Okamurae has set its eyes on the Southern coast of Spain and it is attacking with unseen malice. The entire marine biodiversity is under threat as are the beaches where it is quickly spreading.

Representing close to 200 ships from Conil, Tarifa, Barbate and Algeciras, Nicolás Fernandez, the secretary of the Cádiz Federation for Fisherman’s Associations claims “it is an environmental catastrophe.” In agreement is Pedro Benzal, president of the Estepona Fisherman’s Association who says “I have never seen anything like it.”

It is the trammel net ships that have been affected the most. According to the fisherman, they have lost practically 100% of their catches. Trawlers, however, have managed to haul in at most 50 % of theirs. It was back in 2015 when this invasive species was first noticed off the coast of Ceuta in North Africa. In little under 4 years, it has managed to spread as far as Cadiz, covering its entire coast and stretching as far as Huelva and Marbella on the Atlantic coast. Tarifa’s mayor, biologist Francisco Ruiz Giráldez, noticed the algae was becoming a real problem 18 months ago. He says “it’s relentlessly taking over the entire seabed of the Strait”. The algae currently dominate up to 50% of the space between 5 and 25 metres of depth.



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