THE environmental group GOB has called on the Defence Ministry not to hand over the frigate Baleares to the Calvia town council, which wants to scuttle it off the coast, to convert it into “an amusement park for divers.” A spokesman said yesterday that a letter had been sent to Defence Minister José Bono, explaining what is wrong with the project and seeking “a use more respectful to the environment for decomissioned ships.” As reported in the Bulletin on Tuesday, the council wants to sink the 136 metre frigate to create a natural reef and a submarine park, similar to projects which have been carried out in America, Canada and the UK. The site chosen by the council is between the Malgrats and Toro islands. However, GOB points out that the Malgrats islands form part of a marine reserve, and the effect on the environment would be no less serious just because it is underwater. The GOB spokesman said that the islands have a large number of natural enclaves which are attractive for divers, so an artificial one is unnecessary.
He pointed to the National Park of Cabrera island as “a good example of how proper management can satisfy the needs of fishermen, divers and other visitors and at the same time improve the state of the ecosystems.” In the letter, GOB says that Calvia “has won well deserved fame as a municipality which has built up the coastline and does not respect the environment.” The sinking of the Baleares would be “irresponsible” as the frigate is made of more than 4'000 tons of steel. “It would be more logical to recycle the ship and contribute to the saving of natural resources,” GOB maintains. “After destroying the coastline of Calvia, now it is the turn of the seabed,” the spokesman said.
A spokesman for the Calvia council said that they had had talks withthe Spanish Navy, the firm Canadian Artificial Reef Consultants and the ecology group Oceana before evaluating and justifying the project.