by MONITOR
NOBODY wants to be a spoil sport, even if he knows nothing about the sport in question, especially when those who are in the know seem to be so enthusiastic about a new project, for instance the projected diving reef to be formed by sinking the old frigate Baleares off the Malgrats near Paguera. There is obviously a lot of support for this project, some of it no doubt from people who believe that Majorca must develop new tourist attractions or die a slow death at the hands of other equally attractive, but less expensive, sun-and-sand locations. Even so, given the reputation of Majorca for launching bright new tourist attractions in haste, only to repent in leisure when they don't live up to their promise, shouldn't we know a little more about the diving reef proposal than we do? Assuming that the otherwise superannuated ship is going for free, the cost of preparing it for its new submerged lease of life, sinking and settling it in place is said to be 2.5 million euros. Whether there will be on-going maintenance costs is not clear, nor do we know from the published information how many divers are likely to be attracted to the Malgrats. In other words how cost-effective will this project be in bringing new visitors to the island over and above those who come here already for recreational diving? Are there other ways in which the money could be better spent? Then there are the environmental objections. Greenpeace has a reputation, justified or not, for “crying wolf” and the validity of its opposition to the reef can easily be discounted for that reason. Even so, the site of the reef is quite close to one of Majorca's finest beaches and anything which might affect the flow of the tides and movement of the seabed should be carefully considered. Have the local fishermen been consulted? Support for the Malgrats project has come from those who have created a similar project at Plymouth in the UK and their experience should obviously be drawn on. However, to claim that no environmental damage has been observed there, at an underwater site that is only a year or two old, is not really conclusive evidence. Nature takes longer to strike back.

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