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The marine reserve Freus d’Eivissa i Formentera was created in May 1999 (BOIB. 74 of June 8) in the context of a fisheries management policy of the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries of the Govern de les Illes Balears. After Migjorn de Mallorca it is the second largest marine reserve of the Balearic Islands, with 13,617 hectares of protected area and coincides almost entirely with the Natural Park of Ses Salines d’Eivissa i Formentera, managed by the Department of the Environment.
The reserve area ranges from very shallow and calm sandy bottoms to circalittoral bottoms with a depth of over 60 meters. This natural area is of outstanding natural, biological beauty and has a high value for fisheries. Its bottoms are populated by a wide variety of Mediterranean communities typically for well preserved areas.
The seagrass meadows (Posidonia oceanica) are certainly the paradigmatic community of the reserve because of its large size and its good state of preservation. Most abundantly they grow on sandy bottoms as well as on rocks, at a depth that can range up to 35 m. It is mainly present in the area of the Freus. Of special interest are the meadows on the surface in various parts of the reserve, that are very hard to find nowadays in European waters.
In some rocky and shallow in the reserve communities of algae (Cystoseira spp.) develop what is very interesting from the biological point of view, an excellent indicator of excellent water quality. Also interesting are the communities located at greater depths, with species of the same genus (Cystoseira spp.) and other species unique to these environments.
Other interesting benthic species in the reserve are the red algae Lithophyllum lichenoides, the molluscs Pinna nobilis and Pinna rudis, the crustacean Scyllarides latus, or echinoderms Ophidiaster ophidianus and Centrostephanus longispinus, among others. Of the benthic habitats in the reserve 35 biological communities and 756 species have been recorded so far.
The fish communities found in the reserve are constituted by species typical of Mediterranean coastal environments. When the reserve was established the size of fish and low levels of abundance of certain vulnerable species indicated a high fishing pressure. However, some of the most expensive target species such as the Two Banded Sea Bream (Sciaena umbra), groupers (Epinephelus marginatus, E. costae, E. caninus), dentex (Dentex dentex) and breams (Diplodus sargus) can relatively easily be observed in the reserve today. Also its size and abundance tend to increase even more with fishing restrictions imposed.
Within the scope of the reserve are three zones with different degrees of protection. The No- Take Area (NTA) of about 4 km2, is located east of the island of s’Espardell, where the extraction of resources, anchoring and scuba diving is prohibited.
The seasonal fishing ban area for recreational fishing (closed until June 30, 2006), occupies 25% of the area of the reserve, about 3,500 ha. It is located between the islands of s’Espardell and s’Espalmador. In the rest of the reserve trawling, purse seine and longline fishing, underwater fishing and spear fishing as well as fishing of invertebrates whose populations are currently threatened is prohibited. These species include Squatina spp., Scyliorhinus stellaris, Dasyatis spp., Mustelus spp., Hippocampus spp., Nerophis spp., Syngnathus spp., and the invertebrates Maja squinado, Charonia rubicunda, Astraea rugosa and Octopus macropus.
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