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Weekly Edition 022: Saturday 28th July 2001

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Island Ecology
by José P Ribas

Continues his voyage around Ibiza
This Week: The Big South.
("I cannot get away from Cala D'Hort")

We'll keep sailing southeast, around the Island. Today we should reach "Ses Salines," but every time I sail by this coast and look at the shore, I think about the real threat that is still there for the whole area.

The destruction doesn't stop and new buildings appear here and there, most of the time where they shouldn't be. When I see all that, I have to stop, denounce the situation and pray for help.


For whatever reason, San José Town Hall, the Mayor, and all the rest of the councillors of his political party (Partido Popular) don't respect the orders from the local government or the new laws about the regulations and the moratorium on new constructions, nor the limits of the areas.

Tribunals are full up, stuffed with papers, complaints from both sides, with several new ones being lodged every week. This is the tactic they use now: collapse the system with tons of paper. They have time on their side, plenty of money and good lawyers. As a matter of fact, they have everything but the support of the People, of the Majority - not to mention a glaring lack of Ethics, Morality, Intelligence and Common Sense.

Meanwhile, building goes on - only for some, of course. The rest of the citizens, the great majority, don't seem to count at all. I should say that we do count a lot... but only when it comes to paying. I hate bloody politics!

So, whenever I am nearby, I have to stop, just one more time, before it is too late, while we still can, while we still can dream of a Better World.

We'll carry on tomorrow, after stopping in Cala D'Hort or Cala Carbó for a very tasty and nutritious lunch, "Guisat de peix", a stew of assorted fish with a few potatoes which is one of the specialities of the restaurants of the area. This dish deserves more then just a few words: it deserves to be eaten!

It gives me the chance to introduce some more of our fish that swim around these waters and are often found in this dish.

The grouper "Serranus gigas" is for us the real king of the sea. Its head, fins and part of its tail can be enough for a lovely meal; the rest will be sliced and grilled.

If there is no grouper, the Scorpion fish "Scorpaena scrofa" ("Roxa" on the menu), Stargazer, "Uranoscopus scaber" (Rata), Angler-fish "Lophius" (Rap), Weevers "Trachinus draco" and "Trachinus araneus" (Araña), Amberjack "Seriola dumerili" (Sirviola), Meagre "Argyrosomus regius" (Corba), John Dory "Zeus faber" (Gall), Breams "Dentex dentex" (Denton), Banded-bream "Diplodus sargus" (Sarc).

Ideally at least four or five of these fish should be in the stew for a traditional feast.

One kilo of fresh fish per head and you can't fail! (That's according to the recipe of my old friend Mariano Mestre - one of the best chefs on the Island, especially for local food). We'll go to one of the restaurants in Cala Carbó and start with handmade "Ai y oli," rich, garlicky mayonnaise, with fresh bread and green olives on the side and they won't have forgotten to chill the wine.

Local fishing men brings all these fish and a lot of others to shore. They sally forth each morning in their little fishing boats with all their nets and the rest of their fishing equipment. After the day's catch has been hauled into land, the fishermen stash their gear in small houses built for this purpose down and inside the cliff along the beach, wherever the coastline provides a sheltered niche. So all the activity is done on the spot, a world by itself: fishing, repairing the boat and the equipment, selling, cooking and eating the catch.

Beautiful mermaids from all the seas always come ashore and appear, moving around the table when the meal is ready, saying: "Mmm...That looks really good! May I join you?"

What else do you need for the hot summer days? Even the "siesta" on this clean, white sand is somehow exclusive and luxurious.

These activities have been going on for a long time and were a tradition just for our own people long before the tourists discovered them. There were no restaurants then. They date from the times when coal from the ancient pine forests nearby was brought to be sold at Cala Carbó, the closest port to the mainland, and from there sent to Spain on small boats that came to fetch it. (Carbó means coal, which gives the name to "Cala" - Little bay).

Fishing in the waters around "Es Vedra" has always been very important for the local economy. For generations, families from San José or Es Cubells, ten or twelve kilometres away - there were no cars in those days - kept their boats down the beach in Cala D'Hort to go for the big banks of fish that swim along this coast (especially Amberjack, Dentex, Tuna "Tunnus thynnus", Gilt-head bream "Chrysophrys aurata" and Bonito "Sarda sarda").

It is surprising to see the number of one-handed men there are in these families, a reminder from the old days - but not that long ago - when all these big banks of fish were caught with dynamite. Very effective, but very risky. Some say that is probably why so many sharks were also caught around this area. Lots of dead fish (and some human fingers) often remained in the water.

We wake up from a two-hour siesta, the Sun is going down and there is nobody left on the beach. The beautiful mermaid has disappeared. (Did she say she comes from Copenhagen, or was it Berlin? When did this happen? Earlier today? Or was it thirty years ago?).

Maybe it was just the Sun and the wine. Or the magic of the place. Who cares! Thanks anyway!

Now it is not too hot, the proper time for a walk. We'll go uphill, to the "Pirates tower" right in front of "Es Vedra", on top of the cliff two hundred metres above the sea from where we can observe one of the best Sunsets on the whole Planet Earth.

For the next hour or so, we'll watch the Sun disappearing behind the Spanish coastline, far away over the Western horizon.

What a good Artist's hand! What a brief yet eternal and so colourful a masterpiece!

My eyes are full of light, but I can hear the darkness growing. A nice fresh breeze rises up and... it's time to go!

The Good News

The good news for this week comes from Brussels.

The European Government has approved seventeen of the Spanish projects for the Environment. The money is in hand to go ahead with them.

Among them at least three are exclusive for the Balearic Islands.

Out of 621.000 Euros (Pesetas 103 million), more or less fifty percent goes to protect and help to increase the number of autochthonous "Voltor": the vultures of Mallorca. Without these plans, the vulture has no chance of a future, just a few decades at the most. Let's hope that we are still in time.

The rest is to be spent on the protection of the autochthonous Flora in Menorca.

The most important one is 3 million Euros (Pesetas 481million) for the conservation of "Posidonia"… the famed sea grass.

The Balearic prairies of Posidonia were declared "Patrimonio de la Humanidad" in the late 1990s because of the enormous importance of this plant for the ecological equilibrium of our seabed and its Fauna.

José P Ribas

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