Silent Oceans: Emergency Call from Ibiza

Ibiza Kugelfisch

Oil exploration off the Balearic Islands put on ice

When it became known in June 2014 that British petroleum company Cairn Energy wanted to use extremely loud airguns to search for oil and gas off Ibiza, OceanCare launched a protest campaign. The campaign video spread like wildfire in social media. More than 210,000 people signed the online petition launched by OceanCare, AVAAZ and local partner organisations. They expressed their solidarity with the residents of the Balearic Islands and called on the Spanish Government to consider the views of the popular holiday destination and to protect marine wildlife. Media in Spain and other European countries reported in detail.

On 4th of August, 2014, OceanCare and AVAAZ handed over the petition to high-level representatives of the Spanish Ministry of the Environment in Madrid. The call to immediately halt oil and gas exploration in the waters of the Balearic Islands proved to be effective: in December Cairn Energy was told that they were, for the time being, not allowed to search for oil and gas resources in the sea off Ibiza. The company finally bowed to public pressure and withdrew its application in June 2015. However, two more petroleum companies have announced plans to search for oil and gas in the region. The threat to the Baleares is not banished yet.

The campaign, however, has had a lasting effect on the Spanish Ministry of the Environment. In December 2015 it announced it was establishing a protected migration corridor for whales and dolphins along the Spanish coast between the Alboran Sea and the Gulf of Lion. This is one of the four core areas of particular importance to noise-sensitive marine mammal species, as identified in a report by OceanCare to the Agreement on the Conservation of Cetaceans in the Mediterranean Sea.