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Marine Reserve of the Chinijo Archipielago

The island La Graciosa is framed within the Marine Reserve of the Chinijo Archipelago. (Chinijo is a regional name meaning small, and is more often used when referring to children). With ist 70.700 hectareas it is the largest marine resere in Europe and an area of exceptcional landscape value. This reserve is confined within the corporation of Teguise and Haría and is formed by the islets of La Graciosa, Alegranza, Montaña Clara, Roque del Este, Roque del Oeste or also called Roque del Infierno and the cliffs of Famara. Its was created in 1995 with the object to guarantee sustainable exploitation fo fishing resources. Within other measures of protection, any kind of sea fishing and the extration of live species is forbidden, although professional fishing of goldfin fish and migratory species with bait and trackle and the traditional fishing arts of the area are allowed, as well as the leisure fishing not less than two miles away from this bounded space.

A determinaning factor of its natural riches is the marine surrounding in which it is situated, and which form a biological point of view is one of the richest and most varied in the Canaries. Up to now 304 species of macroalgae have been catalogued, representing 53.25% of the total marine life of the Canarian archipelago and it is the area of major diversity of macroalgae species.

The resources of its waters explain the abundance of sea birds, which find here a base for their nourishment. This was the reason why the park has been declared Special Area for the Protection of Birds (ZEPA) and it by definition an area of ecological sensitivity. It boasts the highest population of the ash coloured linnet (7.5000-10.000 couples), which is considered the largest colony in the whole of Spain. Amongst rarer species in danger of extinction we can find the light breast coloured paiño or birds of prey scuh as the kestrel hawk, owls, the Eleonor falcon or “aleta” (Falco eleonorae) and the sparrow hawk or fishing hawk (Pandion halla etus).

Another meaningful potential value in this Marine Reserve is doubtlessly constituted by historic references of the presence of the seal Monachus Monachus. This sea vertebrate who today finds itself in danger of extinction world wide, survived thanks to the quietness and biological riches offered by these coasts, and the abundance of caves and caverns where it could hide and reproduce. At present Alegranza is one of the potential territories to reintroduce groups fo this seal on the near coasts of Mauritania or in the Mediterranean.

Within this reserve an area of maximum protection has also been established, called the Integral Marine Reserve, within an area of a one mile circle, centred in the Roque del Este. In this area any types is totally forbidden, and access with scientific finality needs, experss authorisation from the Fishing Institution of the Canarian Goverment.

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