The high density of recreational nautical traffic in Balearic waters each year, could eventually cause a major pollution problem. The warning was issued yesterday by the President of the transport commission for the Majorcan Chamber of Commerce, Jesús Alvarez. Alvarez, who is also a director of the shipping company Trasmediterránea, told delegates attending the first day of a Port Environment conference in Palma, that the 6'000 to 7'000 yachts which sail around the Balearics coast could bit by bit cause a large problem. The conference, organised by the Regional Association of Maritime Businesses (APEAM), heard Alvarez declare that the Balearics' port is good because there is no great threat from large amounts of waste being dumped at sea and that Balearic waters are very rarely used by large oil tankers and ships carrying dangerous cargo. The biggest polluters are perhaps the 6'000 to 7'000 yachts which sail close to the coast and, bit by bit, could cause large problems because they are contaminating the water close to land, he said. The Balearic Government's director general for waste, Onofre Rullan, said that it is the coastal hotels which cause more pollution than the yachts because yachting activities are restricted to the summer season. The conference will be attended by the local Environment Minister, Margalida Rossello, who will participate in a round of seminars about marine pollution. The main aim of the conference is to discuss and develop new ways of reducing the environmental impact on ports and marinas. Ironically however, one of the reasons that so many yachts are forced to hug the Balearic coastline during the summer is that many are waiting for a mooring to become vacant in the region's busy and extremely popular marinas. The highly lucrative and economically important yachting industry has been calling and fighting for permission to increase the number of moorings and marinas in the Balearics in order to meet demand before losing out to competitors elsewhere in the Mediterranean. A new marina has recently opened in Palma and the immediate and huge response came as a sure sign that demand is massive for a Majorca mooring. But the concerns are not localised to the Balearics, yesterday Environment ministers from the European Union and twelve Mediterranean countries met to draw up a programme of sustainable development for the Mediterranean region. The two-day conference will focus on the management of water supplies, waste disposal and coastal conservation and the Balearics is keen to see the results and recommendations from the mini-summit.
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