The Balearic ministry of agriculture and fisheries has slapped a preservation order on the maritime area of Es Migjorn and Cap Salines, effectively blocking the central government's plans to take sand from the seabed there to regenerate beaches which were badly damaged by November's storms. The measure was approved yesterday and will come into force at the start of next week to “prevent the very negative effect” which the extraction of sand at Banyalbufar by the central ministry of the environment is having, according to Balearic minister of agriculture and fisheries, Mateu Morro. The preservation order will protect 12'000 hectares of seabed between Cap Blanc, the maritime-land park of Cabrera and Cala Figuera. Apart from preventing the extraction of sand from the sea bed, the ministry will also set up protective measures for fishing resources. The marine flora will be protected, as will various species, as no overfishing will be allowed in the area. The area is one of the best for catching raors, cleaver wrasse, which are scarce and fetch high prices at the markets. Ministry studies have shown that since fishing restrictions were introduced in Cabrera park, fishing boats have moved into the adjacent areas, which are now going to be protected. Sebastiá Covas, the director general of fisheries, said that the fishing guilds themselves had asked for this area to be protected as they had noticed a serious decline in fish stocks. Morro warned central environment minister Jaume Matas that he could not “mortgage the professional future of fishermen” by extracting sand from the seabed. He said that extractions at Banyalbufar were causing “irreversible damage” because they should not have been done without the pertinent biological studies to save the marine flora and fauna. Morro called on Matas, a former leader of the Balearic government, to reconsider his department's actions and accused it of improvisation. The central government argued that environmental reports were not needed as the work was classified as urgent.

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