Palma.— Diving in marine reserves and scuba diving will no longer be free sports as of next year, the Balearic government said yesterday giving official notice of its intention to charge taxes.

In 2013, diving in marine reserves will cost an individual 10 euros a month, diving in groups with officially recognised centres will be charged 400 euros a year, and for practising scuba diving in the Migjorn and Llevant marine reserves, an individual tax of 25 euros a year will be levied.

As well as the introduction of these new taxes, there will be a revision of the price of fishing licenses. The cost is expected to go up by an average of 10 euros.

However, the new charges won't apply to those applying for a licence now. The increase will come into play next year after the approval of the regional budget for 2013.

Margaret Mercadal, Director for Affairs of the Rural and Marine Environment, claimed yesterday that income from the new taxes and higher cost of permits will go to better vigilance and maintenance of the marine environment.

Figures show that there were nearly 50'000 licenses active in the Balearics at the start of the month. But the rate at which licenses were applied for between January and July this year fell by 18% in comparison with the same period last year.

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