La Graciosa Marine reserve

The island La Graciosa is framed within the Marine Reserve of the Chinijo Archipielago. With its 70.700 hectares it is the largest marine reserve in Europe and an area of exceptional landscape value. This reserve is confined within the corporation of Teguise and Haría and is formed by the islets of La Graciosa,Alegranza, montaña Clara, Roque del Este, Roque del Oeste or also called Roque del infierno and the cliffs of Famara. It was created 1995 with the object to guarantee sustainable exploitation of fishing resources. Within other measures of protection, any kind of sea fishing and the extraction of live species is forbidden although professional fishing of goldfin fish and migratory species with bait and tackle and the traditional fishing arts of the area are allowed, as well as the leisure fishing not less than two miles away from this bounded space.

A determinating factor of its natural riches is the marine surroundings in which it is situated and which from a biological point of view is one of the richest and most varied in the Canaries. Up to now 304 species of macro algae have been catalogued, representing 53% of the total marine life of the Canarian archipielago and it is the area of major diversity of macro algae species.

The resources of its waters explain the abundance of sea birds, which find here a base for their nourishment. This was the reason why the park has been declared Special Area for the Protection of Birds and it by definition an area of ecological sensitivity. It boats the highest population of the ash coloured linnet which is considered the largest colony in the whole of Spain.

Amongst rarer species in danger of extinction we can find the light breast coloured paiño or birds of prey such as the kestrel hawk, owls, the Eleonor falcon or aleta and the sparrow hawk or fishing hawk.

Another meaningful potential value in this Marine reserve is doubtlessly constituted by historic references of the presence of the seal Monachus monachus. This sea vertebrate who today finds itself in danger of extinction word wide, survived thanks to the quietness and biological riches offered by these coasts, and the abundance of caves and caverns where it could hide and reproduce. At present Alegranza is one of the potential territories to reintroduce groups of this seal that has been extinguished and expoliated on the near coasts of Mauritania or in the Mediterrenean.

Within this reserve an area of maximum protection has also been established, called the Integral Marine Reserve, within an area of a one mile circle, centred in the Roque del Este. In this area any type of sea fishing or extraction of live species is totally forbidden and access with scientific finality needs express authorisation from the Fishing institution of the Canarian government.

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