Palma.—And it's not just illegal fishing that's gaining ground, but also unlicensed mooring and rubbish dumping. Any of these activities, said the regional department for Rural and Marine Affairs yesterday, could mean an end to the recovery of marine life in these areas.

Similar concerns have also been raised by nautical tourism companies who operate in the area of the Malgrats islets and El Toro, on the coast of Calvia.

For eight years, the marine reserve of the Malgrats and El Toro had been protected by a permanent watch to make sure that legislation governing marine reserves was being complied with.

The measures resulted in marine life having the chance to recover in leaps and bounds, witnessed on an individual level by divers with oxygen tanks and by various nautical companies who operated from nearby ports.

Divers in the El Toro and Malgrats reserves highlighted the return of the grouper fish, considered to be the “king” of the Balearic sea, along with other species including octopus, tuna, barracuda, john dory, sea bass, conger and moray eels. Tourists were thrilled at having the opportunity to watch the profusion of life under the water.

But now, because less funding for the environment has meant there aren't as many controls being carried out in the reserves as previously, what were once thriving nautical tourism businesses are now in jeopardy as the illegal fishermen and fly-tippers move in.

Majorca's first marine reserve was created in 1982 in the Bay of Palma although it wasn't governed by official legislation until 1999. In 2004, El Toro and the Malgrats became officially protected.