Oceana has made a formal complaint to UNESCO today, against a project that aims to dump waste materials from the dredging of Maó harbour into a Biosphere Reserve off the island of Minorca.
The material displays high levels of mercury as well as lead and copper, and so Oceana believes that the project should be halted until a plan for decontamination is set in place.
“The Port Authority must carry out a transparent dredging project that provides all the necessary guarantees,” says Xavier Pastor, Executive Director of Oceana in Europa. “We cannot allow the dumping into the sea of 200,000m3 of polluted muds, and the breaching of the objectives of the Biosphere Reserve, breaking the balance between economic activity and conservation of the environment”.
To summarise, Oceana is bringing the five following points to UNESCO:
– The material to be dredged displays very high levels of heavy metals, particularly mercury, which endanger human health. A report by the Spanish Institute of Oceanography recommends not dumping this waste into the sea.
– The analysis to evaluate the heavy metal content was restricted to only 50% of the surface to be dredged. The other, unanalysed half corresponds to the areas most polluted with mercury and lead according to a previous project carried out in 2009.
– In the area where the polluted muds are to be dumped, Oceana has documented ecosystems and species of high environmental and fishing value, which would be seriously impacted.
– The dumping area is an area of small-scale fishing with bottom-set longlines, and razorfish and lobster fisheries are located nearby – both very important species for fishing in Minorca.
– The scheduled dumping area is located at a distance between 1.8 and 2.4 miles from significant bathing areas, such as Cala Sant Esteva, Cala Rafalet, s’Algar and Cala Alcaufar, and the quality of their waters might be affected.
One of the goals of the Minorca Biosphere Reserve is “environmental management of the coast and beaches, which are the basis for tourism, by means of the protection of dune and marine ecosystems”. Therefore, and in order to faithfully comply with this goal, Oceana requests that the dredging project be halted and that the deficiencies detected thus be solved in order to perform a dredging that provides all the necessary quality guarantees.
Oceana specifies that it does not oppose the dredging of Maó harbour, but it requests that the material is not dumped into the sea, but is safely managed inland instead.
Source: fishnewseu, March 5, 2013