Joan Collins THE Balearic Government is now in a position to pursue methods of environmental preservation in the sea around the islands, further than the nautical mile which is their duty. This will allow them, amongst other things, to pursue campaigns to combat the expansion of the parasitic alga caulerpa taxifolia which destroys meadows of Posidonia, according to Jaume Font, Balearic Minister for the Environment. He was speaking yesterday during the signing of the collaboration agreement for the investigation of the coastal area and Balearic marine environment. This was signed with the Secretary of State for Universities and Investigation from the Ministry of Education and Science, Salvador Ordoñez, who emphasised the importance of this agreement as the economy of the islands is based mainly on its water policy. Font said that the possibility to act outside one nautical mile from the coast will be especially useful in the case of the Bay of Palma, with a distance of up to three nautical miles within its limits. This will now be the subject of much deeper cleansing within the plan started two years ago which has seen the dredging up and disposal of large quantities of waste. This new collaboration has been brought about through the Spanish Institute of Oceanography, on behalf of the State, and the Balearic Agency for Water and Environmental Quality, on behalf of the autonomous region. It has as its primary aim the study of the physical and marine environment of the islands, in order to comply with the European Water Standards Directive, Ordoñez explained. In this respect he said that, taking into account the great effort made in the islands to this end where “there is not a drop of water put into the sea which has not passed through three stages of cleansing”, if the Balearics fail to comply with the EU directive then “most probably nobody will comply with it”. In addition, the agreement outlines other aspects which the EU directive marks as obligatory, such as control over desalination plants and, especially, the natural wells. Font said he considered it a necessity “to preserve these for the future” and said that one shouldn't measure their protection with “human time scales” but with environmental ones. The Secretary of State explained that the investigative aspect of the agreement, in which there will be interinstitutional collaboration to gain a better understanding of the marine life of the islands, will not only benefit industrial sectors like fisheries, but will also contribute to the development of the state I+D+I (Investigation + Development + Innovation), a matter on which the conference of the autonomic regions, to be held in the next few months, will concentrate. As for sailing in the Balearics, Font explained that there had been notable progress since the compulsory collection of oil from the bilges of boats had been introduced. In two years this had recovered more than 2'500 tonnes per season. For her part, the director of the Spanish Institute of Oceanography, Concepcion Soto, explained that, thanks to the figures which had been compiled for more than a century by their Balearic centre, they could identify “anomolies with better precision” with regard to the evolution of climate change. Soto also presented the Oceanography Institute's relief map of the Balearic seabed, which will be distributed in schools. She said that the map would help to improve physical knowledge of the seabed and added a hope that it would awaken an interest in science among schoolchildren.