THE Guardia Civil grounded a light plane on Saturday, as it was allegedly acting as a spotter plane for shoals of red tuna fish in Balearic waters.
Fishing for tuna fish with the support of planes at this time of year, when the fish are spawning, is considered a very serious offence, which can give rise to heavy fines. The plane, a Cessna 177RG, was allegedly used for spotting shoals of red tuna and gave air support to fishing boats.
It was detected by the control tower at Son Sant Joan airport and the air sea rescue department was notified. Investigations showed that the plane had taken off from Muchamiel airport in Alicante, and its papers showed it was engaged in fishing operations. When it landed at Son Bonet on Saturday afternoon, the Guardia Civil had it grounded and its papers were removed.
The fishing authorities have inspected the plane and made a report, which may give rise to an investigation and a heavy fine.
The massive fishing of tuna fish when they are spawning means that the reproduction process is interrupted and it endagers the survival of the species. It only spawns in Balearic waters and the Gulf of Mexico. Fishing is banned between July 16 and August 15 and between now and July 16, the agriculture ministry uses a plane to make sure that spotter planes are not used by the fishing fleets to detect large shoals.