Concern for the future of the Alboran Sea

by Deborah Cater
The Alboran Sea. Image attribution: ---=XEON=---, CC BY 3.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

The book ‘Mar de Alboran: Ecosystems and Marine Resources’ collects current scientific information on the most productive basin in the entire Mediterranean. The work took four years and over a hundred scientists including those from the University of Malaga (UMA).

The Springer publishing house published yesterday ‘Mar de Alboran: Ecosystems and Marine Resources’, a book collecting the most recent scientific knowledge on the geology, oceanography, biodiversity and fisheries of what is the most productive basin in the entire Mediterranean, the Alboran Sea.

Its preparation, coordinated by the Spanish Institute of Oceanography (IEO), involved four years of work. Over one hundred scientists from eight different countries and institutions such as UMA and the Institut National de Recherche Halieutique from Morocco took part.

“Our main motivation was to collect all the scientific information that we had to date, in the most rigorous way possible, to put a knowledge base, because we are very concerned about the future and what will happen in the Alboran Sea,” said José Carlos Báez, researcher at the Oceanographic Center of Malaga (IEO, CSIC).  

Climate change threatens Alboran Sea

Climate change, the occupation of the coast or the monopolisation of the sea are some aspects that increase this concern.  “It is well known that the planet is currently undergoing a global change that affects the Alboran Sea, its ecosystems and populations. In this context, it is necessary to establish a public baseline of the knowledge that currently exists in order to be able to compare and monitor future changes”, declared Báez.

Although the fragility of the Alboran Sea is very high due to maritime traffic, the almost complete occupation of the coastline and discharges from land and boats, protection is in place for only 10% of its waters.

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Great biodiversity of fauna and flora

The geographical location of the so-called “Mediterranean anteroom”, connecting the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea makes it a unique place with a biodiversity of fauna and flora.

“The conservation of species and ecosystems of Alboran, based on the scientific knowledge accumulated for more than one hundred years and reflected in this book, is an asset that managers should take advantage of so that, together, we leave future generations a model place in knowledge, cooperation, conservation and integrated management”, said Juan Antonio Camiñas, a retired IEO researcher and one of the book’s editors.

Seminal work

The work is beefy, with 939 pages and 336 illustrations, and divided into four blocks. The first block presents a vision of the climatic, geological and oceanographic processes. The second details the ecosystems and their biodiversity. The third analyses the fishing and aquaculture resources, while the fourth offers conservation and management policies.

It is thanks to the work of 133 authors from different countries and 33 external reviewers, many from the University of Malaga (UMA), that the book came to fruition.

“This bond of friendship and companionship of many years is reflected in this book because we must not forget that the University of Malaga is very focused on the Alboran Sea. Many of the authors and reviewers of the different chapters of the book are from there”, explained Báez

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