Protecting the Alboran Sea

Surrounded by three countries – Algeria, Morocco and Spain – the Alboran Sea is home to rich and diverse marine life, which all three countries have agreed to take steps to preserve. The average depth of the Alboran Sea is 445 meters, with its deepest spots measuring up to 1,500 meters, and with the sea’s surface current flowing from the Atlantic to the Mediterranean, and deeper currents flowing from the Mediterranean to the Atlantic, it boasts species generally found in both oceans, including loggerhead sea turtles, bottle-nose dolphins, swordfish, harbor porpoises and huge schools of sardines. In fact, the Alboran Sea is believed to be the habitat for the largest population of bottle-nose dolphins in the western Mediterranean.

The first International Meeting for the Conservation and Sustainable Development of the Alboran Sea was organized by the IUCN and National Institute of Fisheries Research and was hosted by the city of Malaga in Spain. At this meeting problems were identified and priorities set for bringing about solutions at regional levels, with an information exchange process set up for all parties. The second meeting was held in April 2009 in Oujda, Morocco, attended by more than a hundred representatives and experts from Algeria, Morocco and Spain. There it was agreed that the “Oujda Declaration of the Conservation and Sustainable Development of the Alboran Sea” be drawn up as an action plan for the future. This declaration notes that Spain, Morocco and Algeria all have an important role to play in the working groups, namely the Integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM) and Protected Marine Areas (PMA), in order to conserve species and natural resources.

It is accepted that the Sea of Alboran’s border ends at Cape Fegalo in Oran, on Algeria’s north coast, becoming the Mediterranean to the east. The marine species most important to fishermen along this shore include sardines, anchovies and mackerel, and dolphins are a welcome sight along the shore as they frolic in the waves of the Alboran Sea – an important marine location that is being protected by its surrounding countries, including Algeria.