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With wildfire in Cala Saona contained, fire brigade sets sights on dampening surrounding area

feines bomber incendi cala saona juliolFormentera firefighters continue working today to control the forest fire that began yesterday shortly after 4.00pm in Cala Saona, es Cap de Barbaria. From the first site of flames till 2.00am the following morning, seven firemen with two fire engines and two pick-ups toiled to put out the blaze. Two men took the reins after that and carried on till 9.00am, when four more took up the charge.

Having earlier declared the blaze to be stabilised, the two agencies responsible for coordinating fire control efforts—the Balearic institute of nature (Ibanat) and the Govern balear's ministry of environment—reported the blaze controlled at 11.30pm. In the process they deployed five planes, three helicopters, one fire engine, 17 firefighters, two environmental agents and two staff specialists. From Betera, València, members of Spain's military emergency unit (UME) arrived as twilight approached.

In total, 10.2 hectares were affected by the flames, which crews will continue soaking this morning and in the coming hours and days. On the scene this morning are the firefighting chief, four Eivissa and three Formentera wildland firefighters, four Formentera firefighters and nineteen UME operators. The UME, in addition to an environmental agent and an urgent response staffer, has at its disposal three fire engines.

Formentera Council chairman Jaume Ferrer as well as the chief of staff of Mr Ferrer's office, Bartomeu Escandell, and environment councillor Daisee Aguilera visited ground zero of the scene yesterday afternoon. Escandell returned there today and thanked crews—including 15 volunteers from the civil protection league, local police, Guardia Civil and other emergency response teams—for their work. Another wildfire struck the area on May 20 and scorched 14 hectares of forest. The Civil Guard is leading an investigation into the cause of the incident.

Aguilera meets with specialists from Mission Blue

Reunio mission blueAt noon yesterday, Daisee Aguilera, chief of the Formentera Council's Office of Environment, along with staffer Javier Asensió and IMEDEA researcher Núria Marbà, gathered in the administration's hall of ceremonies to meet with biologist Manu San Félix and a team of expert marine biologists specialising in ocean conservation. In the coming days, the group, called Mission Blue, will make a series of recordings in the waters of Formentera. The aim, they explained at yesterday's encounter, is to raise awareness about the importance of protections for posidonia seagrass and conservation measures to ensure fishing resources.

As they to hit their mark creating 100 so-called “Hope Spots” around the world, Mission Blue are dropping in at several islands of the Balearics. They will gather data about potential candidates for new protected areas of the sea, a measure they say can drive growth of fish populations.

Islanders get early look at 'Posidonia Decree'

Foto presentacio decret posidoniaYesterday, Tuesday, June 20 at 8.00pm, the Palma administration's chief of natural spaces and biodiversity presented the draft version of its “Decret de Posidònia,” or Posidonia Decree. Speaking in the conference hall of the Formentera Council, Miquel Mir gave details about the document to a crowd assembled from Formentera's nautical sector, political party operatives, members of the island's small and medium-sized business association (PIMEF) and a host of community leaders and neighbours.

Also on hand was environment councillor Daisee Aguilera, who listened to islanders and pledged to distill their opinions as the Council drafts its suggestions for the decree. Among the most pressing issues, she said, is getting detailed cartographical readings that can insure up-to-date nautical maps. “More often that not,” the councillor explained, “the harm that's being done stems from a lack of information on the part of captains”. She called for posidonia meadows to be included in global navigation devices' nautical cartography and emphasised “clearly-worded penalties for distinct watercraft” as crucial to facilitating the work of authorities as they attempt to press charges on illegal anchoring.

Attendees backed a proposal to block exemptions for boats whose crews claim a particular posidonia swath isn't visible or doesn't appear on maps. Swelling numbers of boats pulling up at Formentera's coast—a figure that can surpass one thousand in high season—were cited as an additional idea came forth: to limit authorisations for boats that seek to drop anchor. Councillor Aguilera nevertheless expressed her thanks to the Govern balear for engaging the community in shaping the decree.

The text aims to protect posidonia oceanica and marine fauna that make their home within it by regulating activities that impact the plant and its habitat.

Patrol boat
Miquel Mir highlighted the deployment of a boat to surveil and advise watercraft that anchor across Eivissa and Formentera's waters. The patrol boat will be operative until July 1, when the anchoring advisory service is scheduled to activate a six-boat brigade in Es Caló, Ses Salines nature reserve and Cala Saona.

Rollout of pilot compost collection programme in Sant Francesc

Foto rp materia organicaCiF environment councillor Daisee Aguilera, alongside heads of the Rezero foundation and the Leader group, Rosa García and Pep Martínez, respectively, presented a pilot programme for compost collection in Sant Francesc.

Fifty area establishments considered large-scale waste generators—bars, cafés, restaurants, hotels, supermarkets, the Formentera hospital and a nursery school among them—will take part in the four-month trial, which began yesterday. Participants have been supplied with small, specially-designed bins that door-to-door collection crews will empty every evening.

According to Councillor Aguilera, organisers hope the endeavour will lead to collection of some 300 tonnes of organic waste, which will then be composted locally and used as fertiliser across Formentera fields. The €80,000 pilot programme, paid for primarily by the Formentera Council, will also receive €32,000 in funding from Leader.

Rezero, the waste-prevention firm heading up the project, has indicated the undertaking will mean savings of €60,000, the cost of shipping waste to Eivissa. Data from the trial phase will be used to study expansion of compost collection to other parts of the island.

Formentera bemoans delayed start of surveillance and help service for anchoring ships

The Formentera Council has called on the Palma administration's ministry of environment for an immediate rollout of a help and advisory service for crews of ships anchoring in the Ses Salines natural park, Es Caló and Cala Saona.

Formentera's head of environment, Daisee Aguilera, described this weekend's monitoring of more than 400 watercraft anchored across a handful of areas. A summary:
Between Pas des Trucadors (Ses Illetes) and La Savina port, roughly 250 boats were anchored.
Espalmador buoy field was at full capacity (57 boats on 57 buoys).
Es Caló de s'Oli was at capacity as well (15 boats).
Some 84 ships dropped anchor at Cala Saona while another seven were anchored at Es Caló.

Councillor Aguilera said the Council's call for a speedy activation of surveillance services was “absolutely justified” in view of “the sheer number of ships that are visiting the island”. She went on to say that this weekend, in both Ses Salines and Cala Saona, several ships were spotted dropping anchor on posidonia meadows.

While there is currently active surveillance of all watercraft parked across the buoy field, any ships that anchor away from the field in the rest of Ses Salines—as well as Es Caló and Cala Saona—remain unsupervised. The Council is eager to see the rollout of the anchoring assistance and advisory service, which commands 14 surveillance boats whose crews are responsible for safeguarding the UNESCO-recognised plant. As Aguilera summed up, “ratcheting up the surveillance doesn't do any good if it comes too late”.

Nevertheless, the councillor's message for rule-abiding visitors to Formentera's shores was one of thanks. “With each passing year, people—and ship captains—become more sensitive to our cause and more inclined to heed the ban on anchoring on posidonia meadows”.

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