STAFF REPORTER
PALMA

SINCE last December, 180 tonnes of rubbish has been collected off Balearic beaches, said the regional ministry for Environment and Transport yesterday.

Minister Gabriel Vicens said however that it is an improvement on the 278 tonnes which were produced by the 2008-2009 season.
The reason for the difference he explained is due to the bad autumn and winter weather of 2008 when heavy, continuous rainfall swept much debris down the torrentes (flood channels) into the sea.

The cleaning services, which include people belonging to mental health associations, have removed all manner of rubbish from 348 beaches and coves around 125 kilometres of coastline.

A report on the cleaning work, presented by Vicens, confirmed that a total of 15 mentally handicapped people worked in tandem with 5 monitors from the associations to which they belonged, as well as 36 employees from the cleaning companies awarded the contract to keep the coastline clean.

Analysing the material which was collected during the rubbish clearance programme, 42 percent was natural wood; bottles, jars and tins (23 percent) and organic material (15 percent).

Vicens said that in a region like the Balearics which depends on the tourist industry for its livelihood, cleaning the beaches out of season was essential.

Increasingly, said the Minister, both residents and tourists are using the beaches in the winter months either to walk, or for sporting and leisure activities. “It's important the beaches are kept in good condition,” said Vicens. The Minister said that the Environment and Tourism departments tackle the build-up of rubbish from two fronts. Specially-designed cleaning boats which are able to capture flotsam and jetsam before it drifts on shore scour the coastline in the summer months.

Vicens said that the cleaning programme is not just in place to provide a good impression to tourists but also to promote a healthy environment, to keep the coastal dune systems in good order and to contribute to the ecological balance of the islands.

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