Joan Collins THE 40 boats designated for picking up rubbish around the Balearic coast began their operations yesterday, according to the Balearic Minister for the Environment, Jaume Font. According to Font, some boats will be operating at between one and four miles off the Balearic coast while others will be operating near the beaches. This is in accordance with the Plan for Quality Bathing Waters for 2006, presented by Font and the Minister for Tourism, Joan Flaquer yesterday. According to Font, in addition to these boats there will be another reserve boat and an observation aircraft of the “Milan” type. The cleaning plan will stay in operation until the month of September, when there is much less tourist activity. Font explained that in the 2005 campaign 206'000 tonnes of rubbish of all sorts was recovered. This ranged from wood to dead animals, and from construction material and other items to illegally dumped rubbish. He estimated that, in spite of the fact that every year a little less rubbish is recovered, the results of the present campaign, costing more than 3.5 million euros, will be similar. In this respect, Joan Flaquer highlighted that the Balearic coast is the site of the main tourist activity in the islands. He added that this is the main motive for some visitors to come here and so, he said, “it is our obligation and responsibility to keep it in the best condition possible”. He added that, of the 40 boats which are participating in the coastal cleaning operation, 15 are of the “Pelican” type and these are the ones which will operate out at sea along all of the coast, constantly assessed by the aircraft and the control centre. The remainder of the boats will operate just off the beach areas. Font said that the Balearic Government is making a big effort to identify the source of the rubbish. He added that, at the same time, they are conducting awareness campaigns in all the ports on the islands. To gain a better control of the dumping of untreated water into the sea, the Minister highlighted the efforts which are being made. Part of this effort is being channeled into building water treatment plants in all urbanisations of more than 2'000 inhabitants in the islands, thus complying with a European Directive which lays down that within nine years nobody will be able to dump untreated water into the sea.