Palma.—While the Port of Soller would normally be slowly filling up with yachts mooring up and dropping anchor for the season in the bay and the gradual arrival of nautical tourism, some of which spend the best part of a month in the port, yesterday at 4.30pm there were just five yachts moored up in the bay and most of those have been issued with fines for doing so.

According to sources for the local nautical industry and boat owners of various nationalities, Costas coastal police began taking action against owners of boats moored out in the bay on April 18. “We were given no warning of what was about to happen, we just received a visit from the coastal police and were handed a piece of paper which no one, not even the Soller Port Authority appears to understand, but it appears to be a fine for 3'000 euros,” the Bulletin was told yesterday by one frustrated boat owner who has moored his yacht in the bay for years. “For centuries scores of boats have been moored at anchor out in the bay and normally at this time of year there are as many as 30. “Right now, as I look out across the bay, there are just five and that figure rises to around 100 during the peak of the summer. The Port of Soller is the safest place to moor within 50 nautical miles and during the peak summer months, if you get a mooring in the yacht club, the mooring fees are quadrupled,” the Bulletin was informed. “We've been to see all the local port authorities and every one has a different story. “Soller Port Authority quite simply told us to ignore the fines but we dare not in case the coastal police are serious and accuse us of being repeat offenders.

State of confusion “The whole port is in a state of confusion, it seems such a gray area and no body appears to know what is going on. “And, it is not just the yacht owners who are confused and angry. So too is the local nautical industry. “The yacht chandlers depend on the brisk summer trade repairing and maintaining yachts, they are worried that as a net result of the coastal police's tactics, they could lose a serious amount of business and income, jobs even. “And, it's obviously also going to hit the local tourist industry and restaurants as the port depends on nautical tourism.” The Bulletin attempted to contact some of the local authorities in the port yesterday evening but nobody seemed to have a clear idea of what was going on.

However, sources did reveal that rumours are rife of a new overnight anchoring rule coming into force this year which will put an end to long stay nautical tourists cruising round the Balearics. “At the moment we are all in limbo, we're being fed on a diet of misinformation but could end up having to pay a 3'000 euro fine and find a new mooring for our yachts,” the Bulletin was told.

Boats being dumped “For the moment, I've found a mooring in the marina for a month but after that I don't know what will happen. “What I do think will happen is that there will be a lot of boats popping up in fields or being dumped on industrial estates by owners who are too scared to run the risk of getting fined,” the Bulletin was told. “It's criminal, apart from taking measures which will also damage the local economy at a time of deep recession, it is also another blow for the nautical industry. “First it was the matriculation tax for the big yachts and now they're attacking the small yacht owners. It just doesn't make any sense,” the British yacht owner added.

However, this is not the first time Costas coastal police have taken such action.
Over the past few years, they have targeted the Port of Pollensa, Andratx and Portocolom.
With the season just about getting underway, Costas may be intending to take similar action around the Balearics and the Bulletin would like to hear from any boat owner who is suffering similar problems elsewhere in the Balearics.

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