Canary Islands

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2.2 million residents

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Canary Islands are one of the three volcanic archipelagos located within the Macaronesian biogeographic region. Canaries include the islands of Gran Canaria, Fuerteventura, Lanzarote, La Graciosa, Tenerife, La Gomera, El Hierro y la Palma. These Islands have unique environmental characteristics, such as the saharan outcrop of cold waters, that translates into an abundance of fishing interest species and other of more tropical affinity. The trade winds, as well as the barrier effect of the archipelago for marine and atmospheric circulation, create calm conditions on the leeward of the islands, influencing marine biodiversity.

Coastline is rugged, mainly rocky, with sandy coasts more frequent in eastern islands. Continental shelves are straight, with greater extension in more ancient islands (Lanzarote, Fuerteventura, Gran Canaria and La Gomera). Due to the volcanic nature of the islands, abrupt sea bottoms abound and “veriles” (rocky and perpendicular slopes), caves, tunnels and ledges are frequent. The continental slope seabed also predominates, including canyons, submarine landside areas and coastal shelves. Reduced islands continental shelves are the most productive areas.

Due to the subtropical character of its waters, this area offers a wide and varied mosaic of ecosystems and high biodiversity, among which the species of cetaceans, marine turtles and seabirds stand out because of its uniqueness.

Regarding physico-chemical parameters, the salinity and the temperature of its waters are affected by the Canary Current and the motion of deep seawater towards the ocean surface or upwelling.

Most relevant maritime sectors in Canary Islands are fisheries, port facilities, recreational activities, maritime transport and tourism.

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Maritime Areas

The Canarian Marine Subdivision is located within the Macaronesic Marine Subregion. It is an area of more than 486.000 km2 of marine waters, seabed, subsoil and natural resources under Spanish sovereignty or jurisdiction surrounding the Canary Islands (including the territorial waters, the exclusive economic zone and the continental shelf).

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MSP regional competent authorities

Gobierno de Canarias (GOBCAN)

MSP national competent authorities

Ministerio para la Transición Ecológica y el Reto Demográfico – Dirección General de la Costa y el Mar (MTERD-DGCM)

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Status of MSP process


It took place during 2018 and 2019, and it included the creation of an administrative working group for MSP and the elaboration of the first draft of the MSP objectives with the participation of other ministerial departments, regional governments and main representatives of sectors and stakeholders at a national level. A first definition of current and future uses was also carried out.


This phase took place during 2020 and 2021. Several meetings with regional governments were held, as well as workshops and meetings with relevant stakeholders. Ad-hoc working groups were organised, gathering national and regional authorities in order to discuss key topics. Drafts of the five Spanish MSP plans and strategic environmental assessment study were submitted to public consultations


Having integrated all the allegations received, the documents will be submitted for the strategic environmental assessment declaration. Once this declaration is published, the final approval of the plans will be adopted by Royal Decree. The plans are expected to be approved during 2022.


The implementation phase of the first cycle of the plans will take place between 2022 and 2027, including the execution of measures and the monitoring of the plans. This monitoring will help to adopt an adaptive management, leading to a continuous improvement of the plans.


According to the plans, the revision will take place each six years, in order to encompass the calendar and enforce the coherence with the Spanish Marine Strategies plans of measures.

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