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Good idea or bad? El Hierro seeks views on marine national park idea 

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Public opinion is to be sought over El Hierro’s plan to create Spain’s first marine national park in its waters.

Cabildo president, Belén Allende said she didn’t want the designation to be “a paper exercise” only and therefore wants the involvement of all.

She said 97 per cent of the current law relating to national parks focused either on land or on a land/water combination but not on what El Hierro wanted to do with the ocean surrounding it.

The Cabildo will be asking local residents what they think of the idea as this will help shape the authority’s stance on the issue.

El Hierro would follow the recent example of Easter Island, where, on the proposal of the Chilean Government, the creation of a large marine reserve around the island was approved.

Regarding El Hierro’s bid, both the Government team (AHI-NC) and the spokesmen of the other political forces (PSOE and PP) stressed the need to act responsibly and in direct contact with the groups of the island.

Podemos councillor Amado Carballo said the park would be “an element of international projection which would take the name of El Hierro to the outside and would allow the local population to know better the natural values of the Sea of Calm and sea areas included in the proposal.”

He said there should be “no deaf ears” to the project because of its huge importance.

Belén Allende referred to recent criticism of Spain made during a conference into national parks which pointed out that 41 per cent of the territory with the declaration did not have a a proper management plan.

That is why she said the El Hierro bid should not be on paper only but one which looked after the future of the sea areas to be protected.

Spokesman for the Socialist Party, Alpidio Armas, said this was one of the great debates that will determine the path of El Hierro in the medium and long term. “The great debate,” he said, “is whether the project is good or bad for the island.”

Maria del Carmen Morales (PP) reiterated the need to listen to the opinion of all social groups, and all residents, “and from there we will see if the project of Marine National Park is good or bad.”