Wednesday, June 7, 2023
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The patella ferruginea, the limpet that ‘gives the trouble’ in the expansion of the Benalmádena breakwater

The expansion works of the Malapesquera breakwater for the stabilization of the beaches of Benalmádena have caused a stir in the municipality. And it is that, the tourism sector is already warning of millioneconomic losses due to its execution date (from last Monday, March 20 to next June).

With the high season just around the corner, in which hoteliers and merchants invoice 70% of their annual box, they ask for its stoppage until after the summer, and although the City Council also supports a possible change of date, the problem is that from July to December, for reasons of reproduction and conservation of a marine species called patella ferruginea, there must be a biological strike that makes it impossible to carry out actions on our coast, as stated yesterday by the sub-delegate of the government in Malaga, Javier Salas.

For the worse, it must also be taken into account that these works, which depend on the Directorate of Coasts of the Ministry of Ecological Transition, are paid for by European funds (the already known Next Generation) and must be carried out before 2023 or they will be lost.

The extension of the exempt breakwater will allow the beaches of Benalmádena to be stabilized and protected for a period of 30 years, a coastline that is severely punished each year by the consequences of the east and west storms. Climate change is not helping either and coastal erosion means that there is less and less space for sand. But it is also true that the hotel and commercial sector has made a titanic effort to recover after the pandemic and the plays (affecting 500 meters of the nine kilometers of beach that Benalmádena has), although everyone is interested in doing it, they do not arrive at the best time.

Today, precisely, an information commission was held in which, among all the political forces, the possibility of a joint motion was evaluated in which they would ask the central government to delay the start of the work, the Board to lift the biological shutdown ( an essential condition to carry out the work in autumn without incurring an environmental crime), in addition to demanding that Turismo Andaluz and Turismo Costa del Sol defend the brand image of Benalmádena in the British market, according to the information published by some media British, who talk about a general closure of all the beaches of Benalmádena instead of 500 meters of 9 kilometers of beaches.

So we will have to wait to find out if the work on the exempt dam continues on the scheduled dates, if they are left for another year and the European funds are lost or if the Board agrees to lift the biological stoppage of the iron patella, in danger of extinction, and the works resume after summer. Be that as it may, by all accounts, the alternative that finally prevails will not satisfy all those involved, limpet included.

But what do we know about the patella ferruginea? It is a limpet, listed as an endangered species and with the same degree of protection as the Iberian lynx. It is currently considered the most endangered marine invertebrate on the rocky coasts of the Western Mediterranean. It is practically extinct on the French and Italian coasts and, within the European continent, there are only small populations on the Andalusian coast and in very specific enclaves on the coasts of Corsica and Sardinia, the Egadi islands and Tuscany.

In November 2017, the Governing Council of the Andalusian Government approved a plan for the recovery and conservation of invertebrates and phanerogamous plants in the marine environment, which reinforced the protection of nine species of molluscs, corals and marine flora, two of them in Danger of extinction. And, among the most threatened of these species in Andalusia, there is the ferruginous limpet, which has experienced a strong regression due to human pressure (mainly collection for consumption and for fishing bait. In fact, in 2013 Ecologists in Action denounced the existence of “an Asian mafia that is exterminating this mollusk without anyone doing anything to prevent it”). This marine animal lives on rocky substrata of the mesolitoral strip, a highly accessible marine area, which increases its vulnerability, and also has a low capacity for dispersion and adaptation to new environments.

The iron patella be included in various figures of protection of European legislation (Strictly protected species in Annex II of the Berne Convention, Endangered or threatened species in Annex II of the protocol on Specially Protected Areas and Biological Diversity of the Barcelona Convention), of Community Interest with strict protection (Annex IV of the Habitats Directive). At the national level since 1999 it has been included in the Spanish Catalog of Threatened Species, in its highest category of protection, “in danger of extinction”, and in that same category within the Andalusian Catalog of Threatened Species. It is also the first species of marine invertebrate for which Spain has drawn up a Conservation Strategy, as it is currently considered the most threatened marine invertebrate on the rocky coasts of the Western Mediterranean.

So if you run into one while walking along the Benalmaden coast, don’t even think about taking it because as you can see, this limpet is a lot of limpets and the fines are stratospheric.

  • If you want to know more about Patella ferruginea: HERE


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