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Sustainability Matters – October 2020

This month, IbizaPreservation explains how we can get involved to improve the island’s water quality.

Photo by Jon Izeta for IbizaPreservation

Those of us who visit Ibiza often, or indeed are lucky enough to live here year-round, know that there is so much more to the island than the nightclubs and party scene that have made it world-famous; not least in its 210km of coastline, which is home by turns to rugged coves and sweeping sandy beaches that give out onto sparkling azure waters.

Ibiza has around 80 beaches, and you'll be pleased to know that they are in pretty good condition. There are currently, for example, eight Blue Flag beaches on the island, and according to data from our Sustainability Observatory, in 2019 76% of all beaches here were classified as having “Excellent” water quality.

Photo of Cala Conta by Jon Izeta for IbizaPreservation

Nevertheless, it is vital that we take steps to continuously improve the quality of the sea around the Balearics and ensure our waters remain crystal clear for decades to come. Ageing and inadequate infrastructure, combined with illegal dumping from many of the thousands of boats that anchor in Ibiza every year, make that task a constant struggle.

Already we are seeing the impact on our marine environment - the precious Posidonia seagrass ecosystem that helps to filter and oxygenate the water is under threat. (If you haven't already, do read our recent column on Posidonia to find out more about this magical plant.) And, of course, all the other marine life our seas support – including turtles and dolphins – is also affected by the quality of the water.

We at IbizaPreservation are determined to ensure that our waters are maintained to the highest levels, so we have got together with a group of equally committed partners, including high-profile local companies such as Trasmapi and OD Hotels, to hold an annual Marine Forum. This event unites representatives from the public and private sectors to debate the issues and come up with real solutions to help preserve our marine environment. These include commitments to reduce wastewater discharges into the sea, eliminate single-use plastics and increase protection of coastal habitats by means of marine reserves.

Children perform at the 2019 Marine Forum. Photo by Andrew Bicknell for IbizaPreservation

This year's forum is happening soon – on 5th and 6th November – and is completely open to the public. So, if you're a Spanish-speaker, please do sign up to join us in person at the Cultural Centre in Jesús or via the online livestream!

What you can do?

Some of these problems may seem way out of our hands, but there are still some things you can do to help:

  • Cut down on plastic pollution. Last year 10 tonnes of waste were pulled from our waters and 50% of that was plastic. Remember that so much of what we throw away can and often does end up in the water. So, reduce, re-use and recycle!
  • If you're going out on a boat, ask the captain what they do with their wastewater and encourage them to use the facilities provided by the ports; it's actually forbidden to throw so-called “black water” overboard less than 12 miles from the coast, which is out of the reach of most small charters.
  • Follow and support the Marine Forum and Alianza por el Agua, the local water alliance we helped to found, which lobbies for sustainable and integrated water management on the island.

We don't yet know precisely what positive impact the Covid-19 pandemic has had on our marine environment, but we do know that far fewer tourists than normal visited our shores this summer. Recent data revealed that the Human Pressure Index for this July was the lowest it's been in 15 years.

While it's likely this has brought some brief respite to our waters, it's clear that the island cannot survive without tourism. A prosperous and sustainable future depends on being able to find the sweet spot – and for that, we need your help!


You can find out more about IbizaPreservation and donate towards their work by going to their website: ibizapreservation.org. You can also follow them on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

Check out Ibiza Spotlight's recommended eco-friendly businesses whilst you are here and help to support a greener, cleaner Ibiza and Formentera.

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