OF the 1'600 pleasure boat emergency calls which were logged in Spain in 2003, 20.3 percent of them took place in the Balearics.
Speaking yesterday at the opening of this summer's Enjoy the Sea in Safety campaign, central government delegate, Ramón Socías; Merchant Marine chief, José Fernando Escalas; and head of Maritime Rescue, Miguel Chicón confirmed that more than 90 percent of the region's maritime emergencies last year, (440 out of a total of 488), were related to pleasure craft.
As of 1 July this year, the Balearics lays claim to a total of 28'299 sports and recreational vessels, as well as 2'294 jet skiis. It is the region with the third highest number of boats, beaten only by Catalonia and Andalucia, a total which increases during the summer months when it is swollen by craft flying foreign flags.
According to Chicón, there were 488 incidents and accidents in 2003 in Island waters. The majority were due to: mechanical failure in boats (157), items adrift in the water (66) and for vessels which had run aground (60).
So far this year, about 140 incidents have occurred, although this figure will climb with the influx of tourists to the Islands, he affirmed.
Socías emphasised the importance of the 2004 pleasure craft safety campaign. He pointed to additional features this year which include new measures for the protection of the marine environment and a new by-law governing Jetsurfing, a sport using a motorised surf board.
The priority of the campaign is to provide information to sailing and water sports enthusiasts, as well as bathers, on new legislation and to provide helpful advice on addressing possible risks posed by the sea.
To avoid accidents, Socías called on everyone to show good sense and caution, as much on the beaches as in the water. The aim is, said Socías, that everyone who goes out to sea should be able to return under their own steam.
Escalas reported that part of the campaign will involve the distribution of a practical guide on safety, sports, by-laws and the environment. There will also be other information available in various languages.