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For the first time, a marine reserve was declared in the middle of the sea: Palmachim surf

This announcement more than doubles the area of ​​protected marine areas in the maritime space in Israel and is a leap forward in the protection of the unique natural values ​​in the Mediterranean Sea

The Minister of Environmental Protection, Tamar Zandberg: "We are in the midst of two corresponding crises: the climate crisis and the biodiversity crisis, which is leading to the accelerated extinction of species. The promotion of marine reserves is critical in order to help both in improving resilience against the changes and in protecting species over time. Human life depends on nature. In order for him to protect us, we must protect him. Palmachim surfing is a marine area rich in natural values ​​and species unique to the Mediterranean Sea, and in general, today we are making history and spreading a protective layer over the area that will help us preserve this rare environment."

Director General of the Nature and Parks Authority, Raya Shurki: "The announcement of the Palmachim surf as a protected area is a historic and unusual event in the field of announcements related to nature conservation in Israel. This move is the result of a welcome collaboration between many bodies, which, within the framework of their role, understand and attribute the importance required to preserve the natural values ​​of the sea as part of its uniqueness, characteristics, commitment and also the resilience of the State of Israel and its residents. In the Palmachim surf there are special natural values ​​including rare habitats of cold and deep water corals and saltwater pools and spawning and fostering areas for deep sea sharks that must be preserved and also continue to be monitored and researched. Nature is important to man and it is important that man also preserves nature. The announcement is a significant and important step designed to ensure this. I thank Minister for Environmental Protection Tamar Zandberg for her support, her involvement and her activity in promoting nature conservation in the maritime space.

Rani Amir, director of the national unit for the protection of the marine environment of the Ministry of Environmental Protection: "The sensational scientific discoveries of the habitats in the deep sea require an extraordinary regulatory step in the form of the declaration of the protected species in this area, also in accordance with what is required of us according to the Barcelona Convention - that 30% from the maritime space will be protected. We established a professional-legal team in the Ministry of Environmental Protection and the Nature and Parks Authority, which during the past months formulated and led the formulas and coordination with all the parties, when the goal was approval of the first protected marine area, outside the border of Israel's national waters in the Mediterranean Sea.

Iris Hahn, CEO of the Society for the Protection of Nature: "This is a historic and important move for the preservation of the marine environment, which emphasizes that what is far from the eye is not far from the heart. There are many more natural values ​​in Israel's economic waters that are just waiting for us to discover them, and protect them."

The Minister of Environmental Protection, Tamar Zandberg, signed today (Wednesday) the declaration of the Palmachim surfing area as a unique reserve, by virtue of her authority under the Law on National Parks, Nature Reserves, National Sites and Memorial Sites.

The minister's signature came after the hard professional work of the team of the Ministry of Environmental Protection, the Nature and Parks Authority and the Society for the Protection of Nature, which was one of the initiators of the precedent-setting move, based on findings discovered by Dr. Yitzhak Makovski of the University of Haifa and Dr. Maxim Robin Blum of the Seas and Lakes Research for Israel and their team.

The signing ceremony took place today at the Palmachim National Park, managed by the Nature and Parks Authority.

The Palmachim surf is a large and unusual geological structure at the tip of the Israeli continent, at a distance of 15 to 65 kilometers from Israel's coastline, south of Tel Aviv to the Palmachim beach, at a depth of about 100 to 1,250 meters, about 15 kilometers wide and about -50 kilometers. The protected area includes four complexes, and is in a total area of ​​about 450 square kilometers.

The complex geological structure of the gliding is the basis for a unique concentration of rare and impressive habitats that have been discovered in recent years. These are habitats with unique characteristics, which differ in nature from the extensive area of ​​the soft bottom in the deep sea where they were discovered. The ecosystems in the deep parts of the Palmachim surf are never exposed to sunlight and their source of energy is chemical - gases that are naturally emitted from the seabed.

Due to the high environmental value of protected species found in the Palmachim surfing areas, the Minister of Environmental Protection, Tamar Zandberg, in cooperation with the Nature and Parks Authority, declares the Palmahim surfing areas as the first unique reserve of its kind within the exclusive economic zone of Israel in the Mediterranean Sea. This area doubles and even increases the marine protected areas in Israel.

As part of the amendment to the declaration of national parks, nature reserves, national sites and memorial sites (protected natural values), it is expected that all fish and invertebrates in the area of ​​the polygons marked with Palmachim surfing will be declared as protected natural values, similar to the protection of these species in the areas within the territorial waters (the coral reserve and the Mediterranean Sea reserves ).

The announcement, which was promoted by the Ministry of Environmental Protection, the Nature and Parks Authority and the Society for the Protection of Nature, is essential, given the uniqueness and high ecological importance of the area and the need to protect the natural values ​​found in it from harm and threat.

In view of the increase in the rate of deterioration of biological diversity in the world, the State of Israel is committed to international initiatives to preserve 30% of the terrestrial and marine ecosystems in the world, which Minister Zandberg signed in September 2021. To date, Israel stands at 24% terrestrial nature reserves. Compared to this, to this day Israel has a little less than 1% marine reserves of Israel's total marine area. Now, with the announcement of the "Palmahim Surfing", the total protected and reserved marine area will double and stand at 685 square kilometers, which is 2.6% of Israel's total marine space.

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