by Staff Reporter
THE central government representative's office is distributing leaflets explaining legislation in force regarding yachts and other leisure craft because of the increase in numbers during summer.

According to an office spokesman and the Merchant Navy, there were nearly 30'000 leisure craft, including 2'994 jet skis, registered in the Balearics at the beginning of July.

The number of craft increases considerably during July and August and maritime security calls for special attention. The ministry of public works has published up to 21 different leaflets so that boat owners and users as well as bathers know exactly where they stand. “Bathers' rights are foremost on the beach” is the philosophy behind the campaign organised by the government representative's office this summer. Its main points are as follows:
· Accidents
More than 90 percent of the accidents and incidents at sea off the Balearics involve leisure craft. Last year, there were 488 accidents or incidents in island waters, including 157 due to mechanical failure and 66 due to drifting objects.

· Jet skis
The use of jet skis is not allowed without a licence, except in the rental circuits, and they cannot be used in areas reserved for bathers. Failure to comply with the regulations could lead to a fine of 3'000 euros.

· Bathing areas
Whether or not the beaches are marked with buoys, the bathing area covers a strip of sea 200 metres wide. Leisure craft are banned from this area. Access for these craft should be perpendicular and at a speed of no more than three knots.

· Mobile phones
Do not rely on mobile phones out at sea. According to information distributed by the ministry of public works, mobile phones can never substitute Channel 16 VHF. The cover of a mobile phone at sea is limited and it is impossible to determine position in case of accident. From land, any maritime incident should be communicated via telephone 900 202202.

· Beaches and flags
There are three types of flags: green (bathing permitted), yellow (bathing dangerous) and red (bathing forbidden).
· Safety equipment
According to a decree regulating safety equipment on all types of craft, obligatory safety equipment consists of lifeboats, life jackets and lifebelts, rockets with a red light, hand flares and floating signals.

· Surf and Windsurf
People who practice windsurfing should take the following precautions: watch the weather reports, verify the times of the tides and know the dominant currents in the area.

· Jetsurfing
This is the latest fad, a board with engine which has been the subject of regulations in a specific decree which says that it is expressly forbidden within bathing areas, and that these devices “cannot be used for pulling or towing persons or other floating objects, except in the case of rescue or emergency.” · Fishing and diving
In general rod and line fishermen should avoid fishing from dangerous places such as cliffs and rocks. As for divers, there are three options: free diving (presence must be indicated by an orange buoy); underwater spear fishing (red buoy with white strip) and scuba diving (title needed to practice it).

· Forbidden at sea
Rubbish, oils, sewage and any polluting products should be kept on board and unloaded in suitable installations at a yacht club or marina. It is expressly forbidden to throw plastic, glass, drums, packing, oils and dirty water from washrooms overboard. It is forbidden to throw remains of food overboard less than 12 miles from the coast.

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