Staff Reporter AS of yesterday, some thirty boats and an aeroplane are keeping watch over the cleanliness of Balearic beaches. The summer season manoevres come as part of a pioneering plan to ensure that the Islands' coastal waters offer rubbish-free water for bathing. To this end, the regional Environment and Tourism ministries have invested nearly 4 million euros. The crusade, which will continue until the end of September, introduces the services of an aircraft christened “Milana”. Every morning, she will fly around the Balearic coastlines to spot any build up in rubbish either in the sea or on beaches.

Also in the ranks are 12 boats which will keep vigil at a distance of between one and four sea miles from land, and another 21 which will scour for flotsam and jetsam closer to the shoreline.

During July and August, the operations contract which was awarded to a joint venture between two companies, Fomento de Construciones y Contratas, and Ecolmare, will be increased by three boats of the first variety working further offshore, and one of the second type, on duty close to the coastline.

The teams of “cleaners” will be on duty daily between 6.30am and 3.30pm; but will also be available later in the afternoon when necessary. The boats will be under the command of the Coordinator Centre, located at the regional Environment ministry.

This control hub will be receiving notice from local organisations and institutions, such as town councils, about the presence of any rubbish build up on beaches and in coastal waters around the Islands. Other groups phoning in about noticeable seaboard pollution will be Salvamento Marítimo (Maritime Rescue), environmental and emergency services, and the “patrol boats” themselves. The Control centre will then respond with appropriate teams of cleaners and equipment.

The aim of the Balearic government is that this “keep the coast clean” brigade should be able to be effective on nearly all of the 272 beaches registered in the Islands. At the start of this venture however, it is envisaged that only specifically designated areas will fall within the pilot scheme jurisdiction.

Currently therefore, the teams of boats operating around Majorca, between 1 and 4 sea miles offshore, will focus on Majorca) around the areas of Soller, Cala Rajada (both in July and August), Pollensa, Alcudia, Portocolom, Colonia de Sant Jordi, Palma and Andratx.

Other boats working closer to the shore on Majorca will “comb” the regions of Port de Soller, Port de Pollensa, Alcudia, Cala Rajada, Portocristo, Cala Figuera, Colonia de Sant Jordi, Arenal, Palma and Port d'Andraitx.