Staff Reporter

PALMA
A study by the environmental group GOB has found deficiencies in the environmental management of yacht clubs, excesses in fishing, both professional and amateur, and many other offences against the Coastal Law.

The study of the impact of economic activity on the sea in Majorca was made by GOB with the support of and funding from the Biodiversity Foundation, the Spanish Ministry for the Environment, and the European Social Fund.

The study, directed by the biologist Antoni Font, was divided into four parts.
These were: nautical installations (ports, yacht clubs and marinas); boat workshops and maintenance yards; fishing; and the use and overcrowding of beaches.

With regard to the first part Font said that, “there are still deficiencies in the environmental management of leisure ports and yacht clubs. “Very few, approximately a quarter, have environmental management certificates and nearly 20 percent of the boat workshops polled in 2005 admitted that they did not make use of the containers for dangerous waste”.

Font recalled that the Balearics has at the moment some 19'000 moorings in leisure ports and yacht clubs, which is almost double the 10'000 in the whole of Greece.

With regard to fishing, the director of the study said that “trawling above 150 metres depth causes great damage to the marine ecosystems and is unnecessary as there are other methods available. These fishermen throw back between 59 and 69 percent of the fish they catch. And they frequently fish at a depth which is prohibited, less than 50 metres”.

According to the study's calculations, leisure fishing catches 1'209 tons of fish and other species, which is half of the amount caught by Majorca's professional fishermen.

Antoni Font said that “there are more than 40'000 leisure fishing licences in force and many people who only fish occasionally who do not have licences, which could amount to 30 percent of those with licences (some 12'000). “Underwater fishing has caused a grave depletion and even the disappearance of some species which frequent shallow water. With regard to this, we have observed that the fishing competitions, held in the Balearics since 1975, have contributed to this depletion”.

Finally, in the part of the study which deals with the use and overcrowding of beaches, the report refers back to another investigation done by the Balearic University, which demonstrates the spoiling of formerly unfrequented beaches, with great losses of sand and the destruction of the dunes.

Antoni Font said that, in 2006, the Balearic Coastal Demarcation department opened 181 proceedings for offences under the Coastal Law. On Majorca, 108 proceedings have been started against companies for installing more sunbeds and sunshades than is permitted by law.

GOB's biologist also criticised the removal, during Winter, of seaweed from the sand.

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